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Into the Driver's Seat
Building the independence of learners through thoughtful uses of technology
Curated by Jim Lerman
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Contemplative Pedagogy ~ Center for Teaching | Vanderbilt University

Contemplative Pedagogy ~ Center for Teaching | Vanderbilt University | Into the Driver's Seat |

Contemplative pedagogy involves teaching methods designed to cultivate deepened awareness, concentration, and insight.  Contemplation fosters additional ways of knowing that complement the rational methods of traditional liberal arts education.  As Tobin Hart states, “Inviting the contemplative simply includes the natural human capacity for knowing through silence, looking inward, pondering deeply, beholding, witnessing the contents of our consciousness….  These approaches cultivate an inner technology of knowing….”  This cultivation is the aim of contemplative pedagogy, teaching that includes methods “designed to quiet and shift the habitual chatter of the mind to cultivate a capacity for deepened awareness, concentration, and insight.”  Such methods include journals, music, art, poetry, dialogue, questions, and guided meditation.


"In the classroom, these forms of inquiry are not employed as religious practices but as pedagogical techniques for learning through refined attention or mindfulness.  Research confirms that these contemplative forms of inquiry can offset the constant distractions of our multi-tasking, multi-media culture.  Thus, creative teaching methods that integrate the ancient practice of contemplation innovatively meet the particular needs of today’s students.


"The following video, produced here at the CFT, features interviews with faculty members of Vanderbilt’s contemplative pedagogy group describing the roles these forms of inquiry play in their teaching."

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Social Emotional Learning and Mindfulness-based Contemplative Practices in Education - What Meditation Really Is

Social Emotional Learning and Mindfulness-based Contemplative Practices in Education - What Meditation Really Is | Into the Driver's Seat |

"Mr. Gray, an educator in his second year of teaching in New York City wrote out his resignation letter and left it on his desk. As a final measure, he chose to attend a Renewal and Restoration Retreat for Educators provided by The Inner Resilience Program – a nonprofit organization started right after September 11, 2001 to help teachers in Lower Manhattan begin to heal and recover from the tragic events of that day. He felt he had nothing to lose. “I was so tired of trying to balance the pressures I was feeling, I wanted to quit. After the retreat I went home and ripped up the resignation letter sitting on my desk. I found that place in me that knows why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place.”


"What allows an educator to stay strong, creative and connected to purpose amidst adversity while another to burn out and leave the field of education altogether? What inner resources do students, teachers and administrators draw upon in order to respond to moments of profound crisis and uncertainty in schools? Are schools preparing our children for a life of tests or the tests of life? For more than a decade, these are the questions the Inner Resilience Program has been grappling with. Mr. Gray, one of many educators in this country was teetering on the edge of burnout and happened to attend one of our retreats at the right time for him. But every day several gifted teachers leave the field of education due to the immense stresses they face. In fact, the modal year of experience in the American teaching force today is only one year – and the average years of experience have dropped by over 30% in the last decade."

Via Dennis T OConnor
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