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Mindfulness-Based Teaching and Learning

Series editor: Seonaigh MacPherson, University of the Fraser Valley

 

 

This series addresses a critical and emerging gap in scholarly and practitioner literature in the field of Education that will become increasingly important in the coming decades. As a substantial body of literature, scholarship, and practice rooted in Asian Buddhist contexts spanning 2500 years, mindfulnessoffers a significant, perhaps the most significant, case of a non-modern body of knowledge, one rooted outside of Euro-centric modernist traditions, moving into its centre as it becomes subjected to rigorous scientific scrutiny and inquiry. Now that term and tradition of mindfulness is becoming differentiated and distinct from its Buddhist origins, it is avoiding claims of appropriation by continuing to engage in dialogues across the Buddhist-scientific divide.

 

That said, mindfulnessoffers a key challenge to the critical traditions that are the explicit foci of this new publishing company. While the critical tradition is arguably the key legacy of the Western Enlightenment project, the mindfulness tradition was forged in a very different enlightenment tradition that is nonetheless compatible with the Western approach. Both enlightenment traditions elevate epistemologies based on reason and experience (e.g., empiricism) against vested, textual or inherited authority. Accordingly, both promote paths of autonomy in education, construed as self-determination and self-realization; indeed, even their ends overlap in elevating liberation as central. Yet, the Buddhist enlightenment tradition sees ultimate liberation as the liberation fromsuffering and oppression (for self and others) and in the realization of wellbeing in the eudaimonic sense of flourishing through knowledge and virtue. The Western enlightenment, in Kant's words, was rooted in "mankind's liberation from self-incurred immaturity," meaning the immaturity of relying on the judgments of others and hence aimed at the democratic renovation of social institutions. In this respect, although different, mindfulness and critical traditions offer one another reciprocal complementary and corrective lenses and sets of practices. In the case of mindfulness, it offers the critical traditions in education a more embodied approach to questions of empowerment and agency in social justice and social change. This is reflected well in the lovely text by Berila (2015) on Integrating Mindfulness in Anti-Oppressive Pedagogies.

 

As a body of scholarship, mindfulness is generating mounting and prodigious theories and evidence across disciplines on its causes, effects, and mechanisms, including primary research in Psychology, Cognitive Science, and Medicine on the brain-body-mind-behaviour relationship. On the other hand, the Educational research community has not done well in interpreting and applying these findings to develop appropriate theories and practices to support learners and teachers struggling to introduce mindfulness in classrooms or lives. Although educators recognize spiraling mental health and wellbeing challenges as key and view mindfulness as a corrective, bolstered by research on the efficacy of mindfulness in countering depression, for example, and in many cases by their own personal mindfulness practices, many methods and applications are ad hoc and lack a kind of systematic and coordinating scholarship to link them. This is the intention of this application for a series on this topic.


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