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Garrison Institute Announces Completion of Pioneering Mapping Report on the Emerging Field of Contemplation and Education
Report suggests a wide spectrum of K – 12 programs, definitions and practices; emerging scientific research; and related issues worthy of discussion, investigation and future consideration.
Mapping Report of Contemplation Practices in K – 12.
In 2004, the Garrison Institute Program on Contemplation and Education, with support from the Fetzer Institute and the Impact Foundation, launched a mapping project that reviewed the use of “contemplation practices” in mainstream K-12 educational settings. A first publication of its kind, the mapping report provides an overview and analysis of the diversity of programs currently using contemplative techniques. The Garrison Institute is now disseminating the report widely. It can be downloaded from the Garrison Institute website, Education and Contemplation Program section, at www.garrisoninsitute.org. Printed copies may be ordered by calling the Institute, 845-424-4800.
Background: The Crisis in American Education
With the continuing crisis in American schools, teachers and students want research-based approaches and practices to help them maximize educational opportunities. At present, American students remain behind their peers in most industrialized nations on academic performance. Youth are not faring any better socially and emotionally.
Child stress levels are at an all time high because of the challenges associated with life in the 21st century. These include information and media overload, the effects of poverty and economic disparity, inadequate family time, increased pressure and competition in the school setting, and the backdrop of global conflict and terrorism. On a more immediate level, the greatly increased incidence of depression and violence among youth has destroyed the lives of many children and their families.
Scientific Solution: Contemplative Techniques and Brain Research.
Recent research on the brain suggests that contemplative techniques can have significant positive effects on cognitive and emotional functioning. A growing body of meditation research conducted in university and hospital settings also shows a range of health benefits including reduced blood pressure and stress, improved immune function and improved mood. Implementing contemplative techniques among students makes sense given the demonstrated benefits of their use.
Garrison Institute’s Commitment
Garrison Institute believes that secular contemplative techniques can enhance the range of goals identified for K-12 education. This approach is simple, cost effective and well suited to integration within existing educational methodologies. Schools can serve as a vehicle for teaching students effective strategies that enable them to refine attention, deal with stress and anger, develop greater empathy and communication skills, and in time, cultivate a compassionate approach to life.
Program on Contemplation and Education
Garrison Institute hosted the First Symposium on Contemplation and Education last April 2005. More than thirty educators, scientists and philanthropists traveled from across the United States, Canada and India in order to address broad ranging issues and exciting possibilities for research and development. The dynamic interchange provided confirmation for the mapping report’s conceptual framework and helped to inform our next steps. In addition, we have begun to identify and match contemplation-based interventions with researchers — an essential outcome for field development and one that we have already met successfully in 2004. The following individuals are already involved in our work: Mark Greenberg, PhD, Pennsylvania State University; Patricia Jennings, PhD, University of California San Francisco; and Robin Stern, PhD, Columbia University.
Looking Ahead: Developing the Field
During the next two years, the Garrison Institute’s Program on Contemplation and Education will take the lead in understanding and furthering the use of secular contemplation-based interventions in the American public school setting. The Institute’s initiative will play a pivotal role in defining a multidisciplinary area of inquiry now emerging within the fields of education, health and neuroscience.
The Program on Contemplation and Education will explore the interplay among focused attention, academic success and pro-social behaviors in the context of educational reform. We will continue to collaborate with existing talent at the center of this field and explore new avenues of critical thinking and strategy. The high level of interest garnered by our activities to date indicates that we will be able to move the research, understanding and implementation of contemplation-based interventions to the next level.
About The Garrison Institute
Garrison Institute was founded in 2002 to apply the transformative wisdom of the world’s contemplative traditions to systemic challenges facing the human and natural environment. Working in collaboration with individuals, other institutions, and communities of interest, Garrison Institute aspires to bring about significant changes in global society. We are committed to intellectual rigor, experiential depth, and outcomes that are documented and disseminated. Program areas include Education, Environment, Service in Society and Peace and Reconciliation. Detailed information about our programs is available at www.garrisoninsitute.org.
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