There’s mindfulness for teachers and mindfulness for students. There’s mindfulness in the UK and mindfulness in the USA. You can find groups that will train teachers and students about mindfulness around the world. But is mindfulness being used to push students and teachers to be robotic? Is it meant to cover up the problems in schools due to harmful reforms?
In 1992, the #1 bestseller was Relaxation Response: A Simple Meditative Technique that has Helped Millions Cope with Fatigue, Anxiety and Stress by Herbert Benson, M.D. and Miriam Z. Klipper. Mindfulness training emerged from Eastern and Western meditation and has secular physical and mental calming benefits.
Mindfulness exercises can keep a person centered and calm in an anxious world. It has proven health benefits.
But I worry about the current push for mindfulness in schools, not because I don’t think it wouldn’t help students drown out noise and help them to focus better, but because I wonder if it distracts from the serious problems that currently plague schools.
- Using mindfulness to teach young children to respect one another is mostly useless if you never let them play and socialize.
- It makes no sense to steal a child’s recess and then teach them self-control.
- Will mindfulness make a retained 3rd grader feel better, when we know retention is wrong and the student should never have originally been retained?
- Teaching mindfulness to push children to learn material beyond their developmental ability is not only unhelpful, it is evil.
- Teaching mindfulness to get students to focus more on high-stakes testing material that is not always in their best interest is also evil.
- Removing a balanced curriculum—denying students the arts and electives and then teaching them mindfulness training is disingenuous.
- Creating march-in-a-straight-line, continuously stare-at-the-speaker, charter schools with mindfulness training is creepy.
- Teaching mindfulness to help students unplug, then plugging them into nonstop online instruction all day is contradictory.
- Teaching students to focus harder on schoolwork without seeing the value of some down time is draconian.
- Treating teachers like they are chumps then bringing in mindfulness training to help them lower their blood pressure is hypocritical.
Mindfulness training can help confront the troubles we will invariably face as we journey through life’s ups and downs.
When mindfulness training is used as a part of a good school environment—then it can be helpful for students and teachers.
But mindfulness training used to push teachers and students to conform to school reform that is designed to make them fail is a lesson in futility.