The pandemic continues to teach us that quality education must extend beyond a primary focus on content knowledge to an emphasis on the nurturing of students’ curiosity, resilience, creativity, self-regulation and well-being (OECD, 2018). Schools have to be ready to prepare students for a future that has not yet been anticipated in this fast-paced and ever-changing world. Consequently, in recent years, more schools are embracing mindfulness and meaningfulness in their curriculum and instruction to enhance social-emotional health.
Mindfulness is essentially about present-moment attention and awareness. This encourages individuals to move away from an auto-pilot mode to one of fuller awareness of how one feels, thinks and acts, moment by moment. Mindfulness can also be promoted as a collective ethic-driven practice that is substantive in increasing students’ ability to dispassionately recognise the physical and social environment around them, and cultivating an attitude of compassion, openness, curiosity, kindness, and non-judgement (Huppert, 2017; Sauer et al., 2012; Tan, 2021).
Meaningfulness is usually about personal meaning and relevance to the self and one’s own life, context and experiences. This entails making sense of learning and its perceived worthiness. Meaningful learning is not necessarily about a complete comprehension of lesson content, but how students’ learning can be connected to their life experiences and related to real-world contexts. Encouraging students to find meaningfulness in learning will unleash potential and help them find purposes in life.
In short, mindfulness can be thought of as more experiential, and meaningfulness as more cognitive. When teachers and schools support students in practicing mindfulness and finding meaning in learning simultaneously, they can further cultivate students’ holistically embodied ways of learning as they create pathways for their futures.
Below are some relevant and timely school examples, internet resources and scholarly contributions that introduce how the two can be incorporated into the curriculum and raise issues, considerations, and challenges as we are preparing students to be learners for and of the future.
Huppert, F. A. (2017). Mindfulness and compassion as foundations for well-being. In M. A. White, G. R. Slemp, & A. S. Murray (Eds.), Future directions in well-being: Education, organisations and policy (pp. 225-233). Cham: Springer. OECD. (2018). The future of education and skills: Education 2030. Sauer, S., Walach, H., Schmidt, S., & Hinterberger, T. (2012). Assessment of mindfulness: Review on state of the art. Mindfulness, 4(1), 3-17. Tan, C. (2021). Mindful education: Insights from Confucian and Christian traditions (Encounters between East and West). Singapore: Springer.
Highly-Cited Academic Articles (Based on analysed results from Web of Science)
Flook, L., Goldberg, S. B., Pinger, L., & Davidson, R. J. (2015). Promoting prosocial behavior and self-regulatory skills in preschool children through a mindfulness-based kindness curriculum. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 44.
Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Oberle, E., Lawlor, M. S., Abbott, D., Thomson, K., Oberlander, T. F., & Diamond, A. (2015). Enhancing cognitive and social-emotional development through a simple-to-administer mindfulness-based school programme for elementary school children: a randomized controlled trial. Developmental Psychology, 51(1), 52.
Ackerman, C. (2021, July 16). Mindfulness in education: 31+ ways of teaching mindfulness in schools. PositivePsychology.com. Ktoridou, D., Doukanari, E. & Eteokleous, N. (2020). Fostering meaning learning experiences through student engagement. IGI Global. Mason, C., Murphy, M. M. R., & Jackson, Y. (2018). Mindfulness practices: Cultivating heart centered communities where students focus and flourish - Creating a positive learning environment through mindfulness in schools. Solution Tree. Mindfulness in School Project (MiSP). (n.d.). Free resources. Roberson, R. (2013, September). Helping students find relevance: Teaching the relevance of course content can help students develop into engaged, motivated and self-regulated learners. Psychology Teacher Network, American Psychological Association. Shardlow, G. (2015, November 18). Integrating mindfulness in your classroom curriculum. Edutopia.
Articles Published in/about the Region
Chan, T. W., Looi, C. K., Chen, W., Wong, L. H., Chang, B., Liao, C. C., ... & Ogata, H. (2018). Interest-driven creator theory: Towards a theory of learning design for Asia in the twenty-first century. Journal of Computers in Education, 5(4), 435-461.
Education Bureau. (n.d.). Enhancing learning motivation and learning effectiveness through enquiry into daily-life situations in Secondary 5 Economics. Education Bureau. (n.d.). Nurturing humanistic qualities in students through fieldwork in Geography. HKU Faculty of Social Sciences. (n.d.). Jockey Club “Peace and Awareness” mindfulness culture in school (JC PandA) initiative - Seed schools. S.K.H. Kei Fook Primary School. (n.d.). How to plan a school-based mindfulness course (Chinese only).
HKU Faculty of Social Sciences. (n.d.). Jockey Club “Peace and Awareness” mindfulness culture in school (JC PandA) initiative. Tan, C. (2021). Mindful education: Insights from Confucian and Christian traditions (Encounters between East and West). Singapore: Springer. Tsang, K. K. Y., Shum, K. K. M., Chan, W. W. L., Li, S. X., Kwan, H. W., Su, M. R., ... & Lam, S. F. (2021). Effectiveness and mechanisms of mindfulness training for school teachers in difficult times: A randomized controlled trial. Mindfulness, 12(11), 2820-2831.
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