An invitation to attend “Managing Stress: How Mindfulness Training in Our Schools Can Benefit Students, Educators, and Parents” at the local high school in Fairfax, Virginia captured my attention. Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio and author of “A Mindful Nation” is the featured speaker. The event on June 9, 2014 is advertised as a partnership between MINDS, The Josh Anderson Foundation, and Fairfax County Public Schools.
Various sites present mindfulness as a simple breathing meditation of 4-5 minutes at the start of every class, “replacing instant work demands with the expectations that students simply be.” What is “simply be” and how do you replace work demands instantly by existing? My indoctrination radar came on. I was not sure yet what “simply be” was but I did find out that you can get a Master’s Degree in Mindful Studies.
The “secular” practice of mindfulness is “rooted” in Buddhism. Jon Kabat-Zinn established a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979. Myla Kabat-Zinn and Jon Kabat-Zinn wrote, “Learning to Breathe: A Mindfulness Curriculum for Adolescents to Cultivate Emotion Regulation, Attention, and Performance.” As a former educator, the indication that emotion must be regulated into a perfectly attentive automaton bothered me because every child is an individual with a certain attention span, interest, emotion, and level of curiosity. How would calming a person make them excel in life?
Patricia C. Broderick, in “Learning to Breathe,” wrote that “meditation skills help students improve emotion regulation, reduce stress, improve overall performance, and develop their attention.” The program was designed to be compatible with school curricula and could be used by mental health providers.
The six core lessons, Body, Reflection, Emotions, Attention, Tenderness, and Healthy Mind Habits are obviously not going to let students just “simply be.” What are these mindfulness skills? A quote by the World Teacher, Krishnamurti (born in 1895 in India) and used in the “Mindfulness in Education, Learning from the Inside Out” video is quite telling:
“You want to have your own gods – new gods instead of the old, new religions instead of the old, new forms instead of the old – all equally valueless, all barriers, all limitations, all crutches. Instead of old spiritual distinctions you have new spiritual distinctions; instead of the old worships you have new worships. You are all depending for your spirituality on someone else, for your happiness on someone else, for enlightenment on someone else; … you must put them all away and look within yourselves for the enlightenment, for the glory, for the purification, and for the incorruptibility of the self…”
Amy Burke mentions in the video that we need to learn to listen to our hearts. Is that a good idea for young people to listen to their hearts when they are already confused and raging with hormones? She advises the use of a chime bar in class to center the students. “We know that it is going to take time to restructure education.” Do we really want or need to restructure education on the tenets Buddhism?
Debbie DeGroff discusses the video “Mindful Schools: In Class Instruction,” in which she learned that in June 2010, Mindful Schools has indoctrinated over 8,000 children in 34 Bay Area schools, 74 percent of which were low-income. Children were told to keep a journal of “simply be” and of “notice their breath without judgment.” One entry is full of spelling errors. It appears that students should have spent more time on spelling and less on mindfulness indoctrination. “what I lrend abo_ot mindfulness is when you have thogh just get your net an cach the buderfly that let it go away.” Mindfulness is encouraged at bed time as well. (Debbie DeGroff, Catching Butterflies, February 26, 2014)
Mindful Schools boast 200,000 students in 48 states and 43 countries who were impacted by their program. One course is called Meeting Resistance. Mindfulness is not just a “particular way of paying attention, the mental faculty of purposefully bringing awareness to one’s sensory experience, thoughts, and emotion by using sustained attention and noticing experience without reacting,” it is a much more insidious form of indoctrination. Mindful Schools were even featured in a Time cover story. www.mindfulschools.org
Many schools are already using the “Learning to Breathe: A Mindfulness Curriculum and William Glasser’s Choice Theory. “Students are motivated more by their internal needs rather than traditional external needs.” “Boss teachers” are the traditional teachers who use the method of rules and consequences, mandated curriculum, and standardized assessments. “Lead teachers” instruct based on the basic needs of each student. Students actively choose how and what they are taught and the teacher structures the lessons around the student’s desires. Only good grades are given and, if a student fails, the course is not recorded. What a formula for future failure!
The Mindfulness teachers are promoted as “quiet revolutionaries” who will change the education system by paying attention to the inner life of children and of their teachers. PBS is selling the DVD, The Buddha, a film by David Gruben.
Dr. Amy Saltzmann describes Mindfulness in the context of global citizenship. “As a classroom teacher, you already know that many of your students are stressed… You have also most likely realized that student stress frequently inhibits their ability to learn, and that the emphasis on academics is neglecting the development of the social-emotional qualities essential for skillful world citizenry… “
She also describes a study of mindfulness group of students vs. a control group in which the mindfulness students showed a significant increase in global assessment of functioning (GAF) scores. GAF is used by mental health clinicians and physicians to rate subjectively the social, occupational, and psychological functioning of adults.
Shouldn’t schools concentrate on academics instead on the “Still Quiet Place” of meditation found inside you? It is outrageous that, by using Buddhist meditation, our children are diagnosed and treated psychologically without parental consent and, as Debbie DeGroff aptly described, “exposing a wound that we don’t have the skill to attend to.”
The Department of Education spent $1.2 million on a grant to research mindfulness. Whatever happened to the separation of church and state that liberals scream about when the mere mention of God is made in schools? Why are we allowing Far East mystical practices to come into our public schools under the guise of stress management? Why are our children being constantly experimented on by the latest fad pushed by liberals/progressives who view the classroom and our children’s minds and future as their laboratory? Progressives hope to shape our children’s minds into a more “compassionate” society, brainwashed into overcoming suffering, and recognizing the natural wisdom of Gaia. “Mindfulness is pure religion” and our children are not lab rats.
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