Should Schools Teach Mindfulness?
An excerpt from What Students Are Saying About: The American Dream, Mindfulness in Schools and How to Define ‘Family’ by The New York Times
On Feb. 4, the British government announced that, alongside mathematics, science and history, students in England would now be learning mindfulness in school. We asked students if they would want to take a such a class and if they thought all schools should do more to improve students’ well-being.
They overwhelmingly said yes — taking a break during the day, having a moment for self-reflection, gaining skills to manage stress and learning how to talk about mental health would all be immensely beneficial for their overall well-being. But a few cautioned against viewing mindfulness classes as the be-all-end-all solution to mental illness.
“Yes! As a high school student, I know that so many teenagers suffer from some form of mental illness and are not getting the help they need. My neighbor recently was hospitalized for depression and was taken out of school for a least three weeks. She, like too many others, reach this breaking point because we aren’t taught how to take care of ourselves mentally …
The question isn’t “should” schools have a mindfulness class; it’s “why” we don’t have one already. To be honest, if schools really cared about their student’s overall wellbeing, then a mindfulness class is a no-brainer. We are not just learning sponges that suck up information all day. We are humans too. Just as schools teach us about the world around us, they must also teach us about ourselves. It’s time to actually take action and find solutions to this ongoing mental concern.”
- Lili, IL -
“Time in the day to put my mind at ease, especially during the most chaotic seven hours of the day would make a huge impact on my mood, grades, energy, and desire to function in general. I feel that schools setting a time for mindfulness and meditation classes is a great idea, one that many students would appreciate and find helpful. The mental pause in between studying for tests and analyzing writing would help in countless ways some for me personally being; more energetic, happier, less stressed, and better management over my schoolwork and grades, all making this practice time an even better idea.”
- Lilli Peluso, Massachusetts -
“Mental health is crucial to every living person. For our entire lives in school, we have taken Physical Education to equip ourselves with methods of staying physically healthy in the future. This class trains students to get up and be active for long-term continuation, but there is not significant attention being put toward mental health. Especially in high school, students (often) feel pressured to do their best, receive the best grades, be the most social, win the most competitions and maintain a happy persona. In reality, these pressures are incredibly detrimental to our mental health as we begin to focus our efforts on perfection over improvement. I believe that we should learn, early on in life, how to balance stress. A mental health class in high school can 1) help improve our mentalities in the present moment and 2) teach us how to cope with difficulties later on in life.”
- Sami L., Northbrook -
“Teaching mindfulness is an essential addition to every school’s curriculum. Learning to reflect and understand one’s self is arguable more important than perhaps a physics lesson … Why learn chemistry equations when I could be spending my time pursuing and developing what I am actually passionate about. But a class in mindfulness has life-long benefits for all. Girls, guys, doctors, teachers, performers, lawyers, accountants, you, and me would benefit immensely, taking a pause during our crazy lives to live in the present and reflect upon the moment.”
“Instead of putting academic studies as first priority, schools should create a balance between mindfulness and academic studies. By creating a balance, school could be made into a happy environment where there is a change of behavior, concentration levels, and self-esteem. Not only will this benefit students but it will also benefit the entire school as well. Statistics have shown that schools that have included mindfulness sessions in a school day have a result of 50% fewer rule infractions, 38% fewer suspension days, 25% fewer absentee days, and better performance on attention tests like the ADD-H Teacher-Ratings scale.”
- Alissa, PA -
“A five-minute mental check-in at the beginning of the day may not seem like much, but it could force a student to examine their own state. Are they hungry? Have they been neglecting breakfast? Did they sleep? With the amount of work, responsibilities, and social obligations most teens face, we often don’t get a moment of rest and self-reflection until our head hits the pillow at the end of the day. Mindfulness and the ability to take a second to be aware of our physical presence and mental state are important.”
- Faye, Chicago -
What Students Are Saying About: The American Dream, Mindfulness in Schools and How to Define ‘Family’
BY Lindsay Morris
Morris, Lindsay. “What Students Are Saying About: The American Dream, Mindfulness in Schools and How to Define 'Family'.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 Feb. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/learning/what-students-are-saying-about-the-american-dream-mindfulness-in-schools-and-how-to-define-family.html.
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I always love to hear the perspective of students in the American education system. I think as adults, it is so easy to forget your own mindset as a child, and with America being one big melting pot, it is interesting to hear the opinions of children and teens with different backgrounds and outlooks giving their perspective on their current situation.