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Paper Proposal

Miranda's picture

I want to write a paper that further explores a postcard about mindfulness in education. This grows out of my goal to better understand the usefulness of mindfulness practice as it relates to education and the feasibility of applying it in a way that is, “active in the world, without having to step out of it in order to feel emptiness and peace” (Postcard). In the postcard, I talked about my initially negative reaction to the writings of Pema Chodron, whose teachings I thought were inspiring, but not directly relevant in an educational context, and further, fairly problematic. I want to revisit this thought after reading classmates’ responses to the postcard and after spending more time in class on this topic. One response said, “Her fourth tenant about thinking about solutions as if they are a dream strikes me as opposed to the Chamberlain definition of empowerment where they say to allow learners to be angry” (Dana), while another added, “It seems as if she thinks that ignorance is bliss, that the less tangled we are in our social interactions, the better. While this can be effective in small moments, on the long run, it creates this perpetual cycle of ignorance. How can we have critical conversations, which at times can of course be uncomfortable, if we stray away from negative vibes?” (pbernal). A third added, “I couldn't help but feel like her perspectives were coming from a place of a lot of privilege” (smalina). I want to address these and other concerns and further contextualize the topic by bringing in selections from readings and guest speakers. This exploration ties directly to one of the class’s learning goals, which is “to clarify your own values about the significance of holistic approaches to educating with empowerment in mind” (EL Syllabus). If there is space, I also want to tie mindfulness to other themes of the class, including trauma-sensitivity and community schools.


alesnick's picture

I'm appreciative of this focus and the way you are starting to develop it.  Also quite excited for how next week's workshop is likely to contribute to your thinking.  From my perspective, mindfulness is definitely a way an individual learns (crucially: out of their desire, not someone else's imposition or agenda) to cultivate witness consciousness -- awareness that notes what is happening without judgment or interpretation.  This doesn't mean I never judge or interpret or act or love or hate or fight or resist.  It means, rather, that I train my mind/practice in ongoing, specific, and also changeable ways to hold awareness at the back of all of these actions and reactions, so that I can dip into that subtler awareness (which is part of the life force, not only my individual life) when I want or need to.  It also means more simply that I honor my own life force and right to wholeness and peace even in the heart of challenge.