Should mindfulness be encouraged or discouraged at OA?

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Recently in Orcutt Academy’s senior success classes, a new curriculum has arisen. Teachers Mrs. Kintzi and Ms. Stephenson have implemented mindfulness exercises and activities into their classes, hopefully leading students to live a healthier lifestyle.

Pros:

Students learn about how they encounter so many distractions in their day to day life and how to combat those distractions with online lessons through Evidence-Based Learning, a company created online by University of California Santa Barbara alum.

Within Stephenson’s success classes, students are instructed to turn off their cell phone and put away any other distractions in reach. Stephenson allows her students to move around to wherever they feel they’ll be able to receive the biggest benefit from the activity.

The activity itself presents multiple ways in which students can decrease the stress of their everyday lives, by simply prioritizing what is most important day to day and taking time to do the things they decide are most important.

Within each lesson, there is an exercise in which students can select their favorite genre of music, taking a few minutes to meditate along to their selected song. This specific activity allows students to take a minute or so out of their busy lives, relaxing to calming music of their choice.

Most people will argue that this type of education does not need to be represented in education, but evidence provides reasons it does. Most high school students are striving to keep up with grades, clubs, sports, work, and other activities, without having a chance to stop and take a breath. Implementing these mindfulness exercises into everyday curriculum not only help students calm down throughout the day and de-stress, but also teaches students how to time manage and implement these exercises into their everyday lives.

Cons:

Mindfulness on Orcutt Academy’s campus has been a topic of strong opinions as of late and has divided many staff members. On one hand, we have the staff members who are so positive that they directly incorporated a program into their curriculum. On the other hand, there are those who elected to err on the side of caution.

With the recent integration of Evidence Based Courses, a twenty one day mindfulness and attention training program, into OA’s senior success classes, mindfulness has been a recurring discussion topic among students and teachers. In the past, teachers Mr. Verch and Mr. Gelotti have brought up concerns in regard to what mindfulness advocates. Complacency.

Complacency is not something that should be promoted in a learning environment, or in society because with complacency comes agreement, and that has been dangerous in the past. Complacency, and the agreement that follows, is responsible for both the rise of the Natzi party and their subsequnt atrocities. Schools should not be including mindfulness in curriculum, as it is counterproductive to societal change and individuality.

The addition of nonacademic assignments detracts from the time available in class for students to work as well. Instead of completing college applications or filling out FAFSA forms, integral to their future success, students are listening to generic music and breathe deeply. The addition of Evidence Based Courses has once again called into question the validity of mindfulness in the classroom setting.