In one way, contemplative pedagogy may be seen as something new and separate from other pedagogical innovations, but in another way it may also be seen as reflective if not summative of several more familiar strains of interest, attention, and improvement in college teaching.”
~ James Rhem, The National Teaching & Learning Forum (March 2012)
The ancient practices of contemplation and meditation are being explored by many universities as a new means of enhancing higher education. The National Teaching and Learning Forum‘s newest issue features the first of a two-part cover story devoted to “contemplative pedagogy,” or the integration of meditative practices into teaching and learning. Research demonstrates that this approach to teaching and learning facilitates the achievement of traditional educational goals such as improved cognitive and academic performance. Studies also show that it fosters the development of the whole person, increasing capacities such as empathy, compassion, interpersonal skills, creativity, and self-awareness. Thus, contemplative pedagogy is increasingly considered a vital complement to critical reasoning, rebalancing higher education to include head and heart, mind and body. As Rhem explains in the NTLF article, “faculty have found students renewed in their sense of what they originally sought from an education, a greater sense of wholeness and purpose and with an expanded sense of how to perceive and interact with both the world and with themselves.”
Contemplative pedagogy has been shown to benefit both students and teachers. Students have experienced it as an aid in focusing attention, improving concentration, and accessing self-knowledge. Teachers have found that it fosters their connection to students and rejuvenates their creative engagement with teaching and research. Accordingly, Vanderbilt’s Center for Teaching is exploring the benefits and practices of contemplative pedagogy, as well as other holistic means of teaching and learning, in a “Contemplative Pedagogy Working Group.” Facilitated by Julie Sandine (Law School) and Linda Manning (Center for Integrative Health), the group consists of faculty and staff from across campus and welcomes new members at any time. The group is meeting on Monday, April 2, at 5:30pm at the CFT.
If you’re interested in joining the group or have any questions, please contact CFT assistant director Nancy Chick.
Visit the CFT website for materials on contemplative pedagogy.
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