Browsing by Subject "mindlessness"

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  • Särkkä, Hanna (Helsingfors universitet, 2015)
    Mindfulness is regarded as the cognitive ability of being aware of what is happening at the moment, without judging or trying to reach certain goals (e.g. Napoli, 2004). Mindfulness as a part of school teaching is discussed more and more, but there is still only little academic research on the topic (Burke, 2009). Mindfulness meditation practices have been proved to positively change brain function (Davidson et. al., 2003), and to increase mental well-being, learning and self-acceptance (Grossman et. al. 2004; Chiesa, Calati & Serretti, 2011; Carson & Langer, 2006). In addition, mindfulness as a part of teaching can help pupils to discard the mindless way of learning, which restricts learning and the perception of new information (Langer, 2000). A few pilot studies have been conducted in the United States (Napoli, Krech & Holley, 2008; Flook et. al., 2010), which gave the base for this study. The aim of this study was to run a pilot study on using mindfulness meditation practices in primary school teaching, and to find out the success and usability of the method according to the experiences of the pupils and the teacher. The research questions are: 1) How did the pupils experience the mindfulness meditation practices? 2) How did the teacher evaluate the experiment and the usability of the method in class? 3) What did the experiences of the pupils and the teacher, as well as observation, reveal on the success of the experiment and on the usability of the method at school? The data of the study was gathered in a sixth grade class in primary school. 17 of the 24 pupils in the class participated in the study. The pupils took part in mindfulness meditation practices twice a week for a month. After the practices they answered a short questionnaire, and after the last practice a longer questionnaire. The teacher answered to an e-mail interview in the beginning of the study and another one at the end. Additional data was gathered by observing in the classroom. The data was arranged by using the methods of content analysis, and analyzed by the methods of discourse analysis, using also some methods of narrative analysis. The practices regarded mostly as a positive, or at least a neutral experience. Both the pupils and the teacher used a discourse that referred to achieving in school world, on the other hand both of them also spoke of the practices as a way of relaxing and finding peace of mind at school. The pupils also reported they were experiencing something new and strange, and some of them expressed need of speaking out their feelings and thoughts. The teacher regarded the practices more as a way of getting in touch with one's inner self rather than as a way of activating attentiveness. She tended to avoid the practices in restless situations in class, even though in her opinion the method was useful and meaningful in general. The results reveal the need for mindfulness practices in schools for discarding the mindless approach to studying as something boring, which would open new possibilities for multi-dimensional learning. In addition, mindfulness practices may serve as a method in processing feelings. For best results, the teachers using the method should be given enough information on the versatility and the benefits of mindfulness meditation practices.