Should Schools Teach Mindfulness?

Should Schools Teach Mindfulness?

Have you ever tried mindfulness or meditation, practices that focus on the present moment and being aware of your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations? If so, what was it like for you? If not, does it sound like something you’d like to try?

Do you think that such practices have a place in schools? Why or why not?

In “Schools in England Introduce a New Subject: Mindfulness,” Iliana Magra writes about how British schools are using this practice to address mental health problems among young people:

Students in England already learn about mathematics, science and history, but hundreds of schools are preparing to expand the traditional curriculum with a new subject: mindfulness.

In up to 370 English schools, students will start to practice mindfulness as part of a study to improve youth mental health, the British government said on Monday.

They will work with mental health experts to learn relaxation techniques, breathing exercises and other methods to “help them regulate their emotions,” the government said in a news release announcing the program.

The goal of the program is to study which approaches work best for young people in a world of rapid change. The government said the study, which will run until 2021, is one of the largest of its kind in the world.

“As a society, we are much more open about our mental health than ever before, but the modern world has brought new pressures for children,” Damian Hinds, the British education secretary, said in a statement.

“Children will start to be introduced gradually to issues around mental health, well-being and happiness right from the start of primary school,” he added.

The article continues:

“Every day our front-line services see children and teenagers struggling to get to grips with how they fit into the increasingly complex modern world — contending with things like intense pressure at school, bullying or problems at home, all while being bombarded by social media,” he said in a statement on Monday.

He added: “Services like these can lessen the anxiety, pain and anguish that some teens go through, but also reduce their need for intensive support further down the line.”

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

— Do you think every school should teach mindfulness? Should the practice become a core part of the curriculum, like math, science, language arts and social studies? Why or why not?

— If your school offered a course on mindfulness, mental health or well-being, would you take it? If so, how do you think it would improve your life? If not, why not?

— How comfortable do you feel talking about mental health? Do you feel that there is a stigma against mental health problems in your school or society at large? What role do you think schools could play in helping to lessen that stigma?

— One criticism of the plan outlined in the article is that it doesn’t do enough to prevent the stressors that students encounter in everyday life, like high-pressure exams and social media. What are the major stressors in your life? Do you think your school could do anything to prevent them? If so, what?

— What other issues might there be with teaching mindfulness in schools? Over all, do you think the potential benefits of such a program outweigh the pitfalls? Why or why not?

Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.