Contemplation’s Pedagogical Role
(source: Contemplative Pedagogy at Vanderbilt University)
Contemplative pedagogy involves teaching methods designed to cultivate deepened awareness, concentration and insight. Contemplation fosters additional ways of knowing that complement the rational methods of traditional liberal arts education. As Tobin Hart states, “Inviting the contemplative simply includes the natural human capacity for knowing through silence, looking inward, pondering deeply, beholding, witnessing the contents of our consciousness…. These approaches cultivate an inner technology of knowing….” This cultivation is the aim of contemplative pedagogy, teaching that includes methods “designed to quiet and shift the habitual chatter of the mind to cultivate a capacity for deepened awareness, concentration and insight.” Such methods include journals, music, art, poetry, dialogue, questions and guided meditation.
In the classroom, these forms of inquiry are not employed as religious practices but as pedagogical techniques for learning through refined attention or mindfulness. Research confirms that these contemplative forms of inquiry can offset the constant distractions of our multi-tasking, multi-media culture. Thus, creative teaching methods that integrate the ancient practice of contemplation innovatively meet the particular needs of today’s students.
Contemplative Pedagogy at Montclair State
Contemplative Pedagogy and Teacher Presence in the Classroom
- Presented by: Dr. Maughn Gregory, Professor, Educational Foundations
- Maughn Rollins Gregory, JD, PhD, is Professor of Educational Foundations at Montclair State University, where he also directs the Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children. He publishes and teaches in the areas of philosophy of education, Philosophy for Children, pragmatism, gender, Socratic pedagogy and contemplative pedagogy. E-mail: email@example.com.
- Exercise: Existential Reflection on Marcus Aurelius
- Presentation / Discussion: My context: Philosophy of Education; Three Pedagogies
- Exercise: Bell meditation
- Presentation / Discussion: Sources and Aims of Contemplative Pedagogy
- Exercise: Pebble meditation (Thich Nhat Hanh)
- Presentation / Discussion: Methods of Contemplative Pedagogy
- Exercise: Lectio Divina on Henry David Thoreau
- Presentation / Discussion: Bringing Contemplative Presence into the Classroom
- Exercise: Chocolate meditation
- Location: University Hall, ADP Center Room 1143
- Description: In this workshop, we will discuss the multicultural sources of Contemplative Pedagogy (Eastern and Western, spiritual and secular), the variety of its aims and methods, and what it means for teacher presence. Our discussion will be interspersed with five contemplative exercises appropriate for college classrooms.
Contemplative Pedagogy: Best Practices
All Montclair State faculty and staff are invited to join us as we explore best practices in Contemplative Pedagogy, a holistic approach to thoughtful teaching, mindful awareness and curricular development. In this interactive workshop, Dr. David Lee Keiser will present examples of best practices from around the world, around the nation, and happening right here at Montclair State. Instructors interested in creating a mindful approach to their pedagogical practice will appreciate a chance to explore various methods of integrating contemplative practice. Examples will be provided from an array of disciplines and institutions, including The University of Michigan, Brown and Vanderbilt Universities, The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society and The Garrison Institute. There will be ample time for discussion and modeling of secular contemplative practices.
**Next workshop: TBA. Check back frequently for news and updates.**
Faculty and Staff Working Group
- Staff: Julie R. Dalley, Associate Director, Office for Faculty Advancement, Writing Studies
- Faculty: Dr. David Lee Keiser, Curriculum and Teaching
- Faculty: Dr. Michael Kruge, Biology
- Faculty: Dr. Maughn Gregory, Educational Foundations
- Faculty: Dr. Aditya Adarkar, Classics and General Humanities
- Staff: Susan Hagen, Department Administrator, Curriculum and Teaching
Meditation in Higher Education
The research article “Toward the Integration of Meditation into Higher Education: A Review of the Research“, Shapiro, Brown and Astin (2008) is a helpful place to start to review the scholarship and emergence of contemplation in higher education. The article demonstrates that “these practices may help to foster important cognitive skills of attention and information processing, as well as help to build stress resilience and adaptive interpersonal capacities.”
In addition, this paper “illustrates how meditation complements and enhances educational goals by helping to develop traditionally valued academic skills. Additionally, the practice of meditation can support important affective and interpersonal capacities that foster psychological well-being and the development of the ‘whole person’.”
Videos and Links
Videos that Edify and Inspire
- Fostering attention
- Gratefulness, a video presented by Brother David, a Benedictine Monk, author, and spiritual leader.
- Arthur Zajonc discusses the cultivation of attention and contemplative pedagogy
- Gratitude, by artist Louie Schwartzberg
- Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh discusses perceptions, meditation, consciousness and spirituality
- Hour-long video of a webinar introducing contemplative pedagogy
Links to Research, Programs and More
- A catalog of sample syllabi of courses integrating contemplation for various disciplines may be helpful in constructing your own course.
- Inside Passages offers insights on contemplative kayaking, thoughts, essays, and talks from Kurt Hoelting.
- Mindfulness Meditations links to several guided audio files to guide mindfulness practice.
- Burggraff, Susan & Grossenbacher, Steven. “Contemplative Modes of Inquiry in Liberal Arts Education“, in Liberal Arts Online, Volume 7, Number 4, June 2007.
- Hart, Tobin. “Opening the Contemplative Mind in the Classroom“, Journal of Transformative Education, Vol. 2 No. 1, January 2004.
- Haynes, D. “Contemplative Practice and the Education of the Whole Person“, ARTS: The Arts in Religious and Theological Studies, 16, 2, 2005.
- Kabat-Zinn, Jon. “Catalyzing Movement Towards a more Contemplative/Sacred-Appreciating/Non-dualistic Society“, The Contemplative Mind in Society meeting of the Working Group, September 29-October 2, 1994.
- Bache, Christopher M. The Living Classroom: Teaching and Collective Consciousness
- Contemplative practice examples in the classroom, and across various disciplines
Organizations and Programs
- The Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education is a subgroup of the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. Their site provides event announcements, syllabi, information about trainings in contemplative pedagogy, and resources including research and teaching tools.
- The Center for the Advancement of Contemplative Education at Naropa University aims to provide both local services and to contribute to the larger field of Contemplative Pedagogy. The center has a particular emphasis on cultural diversity and civic engagement.
- The Contemplative Studies Initiative at Brown University includes faculty from a variety of disciplines who share a common interest in the contemplative experience.
- The University of Michigan offers Creativity and Consciousness Studies.
- Education as Transformation is an international organization that works with colleges, universities, K-12 schools and related institutions to explore the impact of religious diversity on education and the role of spirituality in educational institutions.
- The Forum for Contemplative Studies is a resource site for the meeting of psychotherapy, mindfulness and Buddhism. It contains information on mindfulness meditation, contemplative psychotherapy, a directory of psychotherapists, courses, articles and literature.
- The Garrison Institute explores the intersection of contemplation and engaged action in the world. Founded in 2003, its mission is to apply the transformative power of contemplation to today’s pressing social and environmental concerns, helping build a more compassionate, resilient future. They have a special initiative on Contemplation and Education.
- The Mindfulness in Education Network was created to facilitate communication among all educators, parents, students and any others interested in promoting contemplative practice (mindfulness) in educational settings. The website has numerous relevant resources and articles.