Thursday, April 17, 2014

5 Reasons to Educate the Heart Not Just the Mind

5 Reasons to Educate the Heart Not Just the Mind
Society typically focuses on teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. There is value in teaching literacy and numeracy. But when we discount the value of developing a child's heart-center, we do so at the expense of generations of children that lack empathy.

Some would argue that such development belongs in the home, not the school. I vehemently disagree.

School is a place where students experience community within a community. And within that school community there are ample situations where children and youth have an opportunity to experience mini versions of what life will bring them. The problem is, they are often ill-equipped to deal with such situations. We thrust them into the pool and expect them to sink or swim without the benefit of a life jacket, sometimes without a lifeguard

When heart-centeredness is taught in schools, studies repeatedly show unexpected benefits that go beyond the development of empathy, altruism and compassion, which in and of themselves is reason enough to offer in the curriculum.

In 2010, in an analysis of 213 studies involving some 300,000 students, researchers found that students who received social, emotional and mindfulness training:
  1. scored 11 - 17 percentage points higher on achievement tests
  2. had more positive feelings about school
  3. exhibited improved behaviour
  4. had fewer incidents of drug and alcohol use
  5. had fewer incidents of violence and bullying
Education professor Kimberley Schonert-Reichl of the University of British Columbia has worked closely with the Hawn Foundation's MindUp Program, which promotes more mindfulness in the classroom.
SIDE NOTE: Mindfulness in this context is not listening more to authority. Mindfulness is focusing one's awareness on the present moment and accepting feelings, thoughts and sensations.
When Schonert-Reichl studied the effectiveness of the MindUp Program, she found that children and youth who went through the 15-module program experienced less stress and performed better on standardized tests. They also managed their emotions and behaviour more effectively and developed more empathy for others.
  1. At a time where we're so concerned about what we are teaching children and what they are learning
  2. A time when certain segments of the population are dropping out of school in record numbers
  3. A time when children and youth are more stressed out than at any other time in recorded history
  4. A time when alcohol and drug abuse among children and youth continues to rise
  5. At a time where we hear so much about bullying and violence in schools
How can anyone argue that teaching heart-centeredness has no place in schools? 
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