Integration of mindfulness into Orcutt Academy curriculum

Mindfulness in the classroom is currently a controversial topic for Orcutt Academy teachers.  A recent staff and teacher inservice day included a presentation on mindfulness that some teachers took to heart, while others were wary of the implications of the topic.  


English teacher Mr. Scott Gelotti spoke to the Oracle about his personal concerns regarding the origin of mindfulness, hinting to its deep roots in Buddhism. The religious and spiritual origins of the practice hold concerns for him, specifically regarding the separation of “church and state” that is required by law in California school systems. 


Gelotti feels that mindfulness is a “tool that won’t be effective in it’s practice,” and “doesn’t give students a way to advocate for themselves,” either. He doesn’t believe that mindfulness in the classroom holds many benefits for students. Gelotti is currently reluctant to implement mindfulness in his classroom personally, but could easily change his mind if more research on the issue was made public. 


Similar sentiments, albeit shorter winded, were expressed by Orcutt Academy’s Mr. Gregory Verch, who is cautious of the idea as well. He viewed the issue as a personal decision, and students should make their own choice on the matter saying “whatever works for you,” and “you do you.” Verch’s personal opinion on meditation was that it isn’t for him, as he’d rather go out and do something. 


Mr. Ty Fredriks, a science teacher at Orcutt Academy, holds a vastly different view. Fredriks has taken to the practice wholeheartedly, jumping headfirst into a daily program for mindful meditation. He is currently in his second week of daily meditation, and said that he has noticed an increase in his focus and self awareness. During his interview with the Oracle, he spoke about his willingness to implement short meditations during class time. The only thing holding back the teacher’s plans is “finding the correct way to make it fit, as it doesn’t relate to any of the curriculum.” 


Orcutt Academy staff is currently pretty evenly divided on the idea of implementing mindfulness meditations in their classroom. The major concerns of critics are in regard to religious ties, relation to curriculum, and whether it infringes on a student’s free choice.