A Year in Review at The Study Academy

A Year in Review at The Study Academy

Educational Research High School Middle School

Hello Readers,

with classes ending, its been making me think of all that’s happened through the year. I’ve tried to share them all with you each and every week. We have also discussed many of the recent and pressing issues in Education and research. I must say, it  has definitely been quite exciting each and every week.

When I first was approached to write for The Study Academy’s blog, I was shocked. The first concern that came to my mind was how could I make these posts relevant to you, the Reader. I knew it had to be about The Study Academy, but I felt there just had to be something more. It came to me one morning- Theoretical Thursdays!  In addition to Tuesday’s The Study Academy Reports, Theoretical Thursdays has come to comprise the basis for this blog.Neurfeedback training for ADHD

The posts these past few months have been diverse, but I hope they have been informative. On every Tuesday’s The Study Academy Report I tried to detail to you all the exciting happenings going on at school, both in the Highschool and Middle School sections. In some of my posts, I’ve written about the Neurofeedback training at The Study Academy lab, or the Study Academy’s small class sizes.  I also detailed to you about the exciting volunteering abroad opportunity that some of the students took in Nicaragua and the array of activities during Inspire Week. In the last remaining weeks, as things slowed down I spoke about the music classes available, the anti bullying policies at the school, the structured educational system, the theatrical performances by students, and the exciting new work happening at The Study Academy lab.

Teaching methods based on graduate research in action!Likewise , every Theoretical Thursday you, the Reader, were provided with the exciting research happening around the world and its relevance to Education and your child. You learned about the lasting effects of smaller class sizes, the self control technique of Mindfulness, the importance of divergent thinking in children, and the exciting new method of detecting autism.  In addition, I discussed the importance of music and goal setting for children, while using the most up to date and relevant research. Those who read my previous posts also learned the dangers of stereotype threat for young girls who like Math and the ways to prevent their impact, as well as how to use the structure of memory to one’s advantage so children will not forget their lessons over the break.

To say the least, we have had some very good time this year at The Study Academy, however summer is finally here, so we are going to have to say goodbye to our regular Tuesday posts, The Study Academy Report. The final The Study Academy Report will be next week . It will be detailing the last days of Brain Camp. However, it will be replaced with a new opinion section. All my readers will now get an opportunity to interact and really give your opinions about Education and Research. So, definitely don’t stop dropping by on Tuesday; instead come as you are and bring your opinions with you!

Theoretical Thursday: Mindfulness Meditation to Benefit Students

Theoretical Thursday: Mindfulness Meditation to Benefit Students

The Study Academy Report

Hello Readers and welcome to the Fourth Week of Theoretical Thursday!

As I mentioned on Tuesday’s blog, there has been an integration of Mindfulness and Meditation practices into the Educational System, so today I want to talk to you more about the beneficial effects that Researchers have found. However first off I want to try to provide you a better understanding of Mindfulness.

The Buddhist tradition has a long history of dealing with problems of the mind and body. In fact, it already predated Western Psychology as a science by more than eighteen and  a half centuries. To be particular, the Abhidhamma, a collection of writings that outline the doctrines of Buddhism, revealed an explicitly psychological content, providing  details on such sensation, perception, emotion and cognition. That being the case, there were already ways of dealing with many of the problems that society still faces today.

As I previously mentioned Mindfulness Meditation combines both an open mind as well as a focused attention. One focuses on one’s breath and is open to their environment. With time and practice this practice is integrated into how one see’s their every day life. So in this way, the mechanisms of mindfulness meditation, with their emphasis on developing openness and awareness to one’s inner thoughts, represent a powerful coping strategy and more adaptive way of processing in everyday life (Shapiro et al., 2006).

There has been several studies of Mindfulness and Meditation in schools that have yielded results that coincide with Shapiro’s sentiment, such as:

  • Improved self-control and self-awareness among children ages 7-9 who initially lack such skills (Flook et al. 2010)
  • Improved attention skills among elementary school children (Schonert-Reichl and Lawlor 2010; Napoli, Krech, and Holley 2005; Zylowska et al. 2008)
  • Decreased anxiety among students in grades 7-8 (Semple, Reid, and Miller 2005)
  • Decreased test anxiety in students grades 1-3 (Napoli, Krech, and Holley 2005)
  • Decreased blood pressure in youths ages 6-18 (Black, Milam, and Sussman 2009; Barnes, Beiser, and Treiber 2004)
  • Reduced misbehavior/aggression among children and adolescents (Schonert-Reichl and Lawlor 2010; Black, Milam, and Sussman 2009; Barnes, Treiber, and Johnson 2003)

If you are interested in finding out more about the many benefits, I suggest you read the meta-analysis Sedlmeier and colleagues from the Chemnitz University of Technology: http://www.ashanamind.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/physiological-effects_Sedlmeier_12.pdf

I believe that part of the reason for these results is that Mindfulness and Meditation teach students how to engage in cognitive restructuring. What I mean is that by bringing one’s attention to oneself and their surroundings, as well as incorporating an open mind to situations, an individual can adjust their normal and potentially negative reactions. Research in neuro-imaging studies has indeed shown this, where  through inhibition that an automatic reactive attitude shift towards a more open minded attitude (Brown and Ryan, 2003; Ryan et al., 1997).

This type of reconstrual is  done through breaking up the relevance of objects constructed in their mind.One is metaphorically stepping back, looking through the thought and in doing so they can break apart chunks of sequential thought patterns.The cognitive restructuring of what the individuals finds salient opens up the opportunity for a more open-minded mindset that can positively affect the appraisal process of many situations anxiety, blood pressure, and social interaction.

There has been programs popping up in Toronto that teach students Mindfulness and Meditation, however it is not fully introduced into the Educational system as of yet. However, I believe with time and the persistence of certain programs like Mindfulness in Schools (http://mindfulnessinschools.org/), it will be, and at that point Education will no longer simply consider what it puts into the minds of the children, but also how it can change the mind within it too!

Thank you and I hope you drop by next week!






Mindfulness in the Classroom

Mindfulness in the Classroom

Middle School


Welcome to the weekly school update formerly known as The Study Academy Report. Today, I want to bring up a practice conducted at The Study Academy that I find, personally, very enlightening.

The idea of focused attention in Mindfulness MeditationFor some time now, the Middle School students have been engaging in Mindfulness practices before beginning class sessions. What is Mindfulness? That’s a bit too challenging a task to accomplish in one sentence, however for the time being I will have to do it this slight injustice till we discuss it in more detail on Thursday. Mindfulness is the practice of learning to direct our attention to our experience as they unfold, moment by moment with open-mindedness and focused attention. Students would assume a posture and rest their attention on their breath. If their attention wandered away from their breath, that is to say, if the thought of what they had for lunch pops into their head, they are to gently bring their attention back to their body.

The incorporation of the practice is in line with Mind, Brain, Education structure at the school. There has been rigorous work done on the relationship between the practice of Mindfulness to our brains, our ability to focus, learn and interact. At The Study Academy, Mindfulness practice and Meditation are used to enhance awareness of the student and help their emotional regulation. The practice also is in line with the aims of the Pastoral care included in the Educational structure of the school, as Byran indeed encourages and provides strategies that promote Mindfulness.

John Vervake giving a talk about Mindfulness Meditation at a Ted Talk at U of TThe Mindfulness and Meditation exercises were taught by Dr. John Vervaeke (http://johnvervaeke.com/wordpress/) , a lecturer at the University of Toronto and involved in both the Psychology department, Cognitive Science Department, and the newly formed Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health program (http://www.newcollege.utoronto.ca/academics/new-college-academic-programs/buddhism-psychology-and-mental-health/centre-for-buddhism-and-psychology/the-buddhism-psychology-mental-health-program/). His research interests are relevance realization, insight problem-solving, the nature of general intelligence, consciousness, mindfulness, and wisdom. These are  important to Education, therefore he was an ideal person to come and teach those ready to learn about this ancient practice. Since then the practice has been providing the students a period of time to get ready to learn once again.

While, I will admit as an individual who dabbles in Mindfulness Meditation, it is not an easy practice to jump into. Your mind will naturally wander, however, with time I found the experience to have such wonderful effects. From my personal experience, I feel it is such a great practice to integrate into our Educational institutions. So you know what? That’s exactly what I’m going to discuss with you all on this  week’s Theoretical Thursday.

See you soon!