The Potential Impact Of Mindfulness Meditation On Education
Mindfulness meditation is an exciting concept that is being picked up by adults across the globe as more and more parents, students, workers and health fanatics take up the discipline and learn to view themselves and their surroundings in a new, enlightening way. We are perfectly happy to try it for ourselves because of the potential effects on out health and mental well-being but for some reason we are a little more wary when it comes to our kids. There are many schools trying to bring the practices of mindfulness meditation into the classroom because of the impact it can have on education but this desire to have our children meditation and learning breathing exercises is meeting a few obstacles.
The potential of mindfulness meditation classes in schools.
The links between mindfulness meditation and mental health suggest a potential impact on a child’s educational performance because not only can it improve the mood of the child, there is evidence to suggest that it could also make them more empathic, attentive and improve their academic record. The mindfulness concept of clarity of thought and deeper connections to the moment easily translate over to the classroom, making them a great option for hyperactive kids, and the relaxing, anxiety-reducing effects of mindfulness meditation have a range of implications in exam environments and intimidating classes.
Studies on students taking part in mindfulness schemes show that it really can be of benefit to their academic progression. A University of California study showed that students trained in these techniques showed better memory and verbal reasoning and a 2013 study on a six-week mindfulness program, which involved a range of factors including group stories and depression education, showed that it was effective for adolescents and should be recommended. When research shows that you can essentially decrease the likelihood of depression in students and increase their test scores and abilities, it is easy to see why schools would be keen to bring mindfulness lessons into the classroom. The problem is that not everybody shares these views and the concept is facing strong opposition.
Why are mindfulness meditation classes so controversial?
While the students and teachers may be enthusiastic about the results seen with these practises and the classes themselves, the parents are less so and are even campaigning to have them eliminated in some schools. Warstler Elementary in Ohio is a good example of this; students are enjoying all the benefits of the practices, such as breathing exercises, meditation, stretching, focus, anxiety relief and emotional control, but parents are unnerved by the unconventional, Eastern approach and focus on the religious elements – in their eyes, meditation is too closely linked to Buddhism like yoga is to Hinduism. Even though there is no real religious element and the physical and mental health of the child is all that is being encouraged, the old church vs state argument also comes into play here and schools are facing an uphill battle.
So what is the solution here?
Should children be given access to these techniques at school and if so, when? It is easy to see why some parents of younger children may be a little concerned by these lessons if they have strong religious beliefs and the practices are mandatory but shouldn’t students have the option to take part in these programs if they choose to improve their test scores and experience in the classroom. Perhaps the best course of action is to implement voluntary classes, maybe on an extra-curricular basis, for older students that have particularly difficulties with stress, depression or concentration – something parents can have some control over but that still offers the key principles.
Summary: the potential of mindfulness meditation on education should not be ignored.
It would be a shame if the politics of school procedures and the ignorance of ill-informed parents stopped mindfulness meditation being used in schools because, as the research clearly shows, the possible benefits that can be enjoyed are numerous and have a great impact on the future education of children. There is, of course, nothing to stop parents teaching children away from the classroom because of the simplicity and accessibility of the discipline; but a structured lesson with friends is surely a much more appealing option.