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!

Cya!

 

 

 

 

Discussing the Benefits of Our Small Class Size

Discussing the Benefits of Our Small Class Size

Middle School

Hello Readers,

Thank you for coming back for another Tuesday’s Study Report. I hope you are enjoying your March Break, but not so much as to forget about The Study Academy! During my time thus far, I have found one thing in particular very fascinating- the small class sizes. In both the Highschool and Middle school classes, The Study features a 5:1 Promise, there is one teacher for every 5 students.

Our 5:1 student to teacher ratio in actionI remember when I was in Middle school, I was stuck in a class with usually 23 other students with only one teacher. In some schools I believe that is still a common occurrence. Can you imagine how challenging that must have been, for both the student as well as the teacher?  At The Study Academy that is not an issue, so don’t you fret, readers.

At The Study Academy, a student is fortunate enough to be in a smaller class size where teachers actively develop student’s learning skill development, as well as self efficacy, in a supportive environment. Nevertheless, I recognize there has been rather faulty arguments made against the push towards smaller class structure, one of which has to do with a child’s social skills. Some are concerned that with a smaller class size, there are fewer chances for a child to interact with enough children to sufficiently develop their social skills. I find this argument ignores activities in educational institutions that bring large number of students together. Also, it is not the quantity that matters, so much as the quality of interactions.

One of our teachers demonstrating our 5:1 promise in action!However, this argument does have one thing right – that school environment does play a role in the well being of a child. For that reason The Study Academy incorporated a structured Pastoral care component that goes along quite well with its small class sizes.  The Study Academy website perfectly expresses their educational strategy as having a” commitment to the holistic development of its students helping exceptional children achieve exceptionally.” Run by Byran Levy-Young,  He assists the children through guided strategies that helps them to manage both academic and personal aspects of their life. You can learn more by following the following link to his web page:

http://blyconsulting.com/about2/

I think in this way, the small class sizes and pastoral care component really help the students  of The Study Academy to develop into strong adults who are ready to walk out into the world and create themselves through their experiences.