Mindfulness in Education, a talk by Nimrod Sheinman

Nimrod Sheinman, BSc, ND has being working on a Mindfulness in Education program in Tel-Avi, Israel for the last 15 years. His program is aimed helping students meet themselves to discover their own internal emotional state, and then from that awareness to learn how to develop self-control. This was achieved through an integrated (or holistic) medicine approach by combining yoga-based movements with breathing & relaxation techniques.

The goals was to enhance self awareness, improve self-efficacy, resilience, sense of coherence, prevent risky behaviours, develop social-emotional skills, support mind-body health and improve learning. Which is to say that they were aiming to reduce attention & concentration deficits, difficult emotions & behaviour issues, risky behaviours, eating problems, etc.

Additionally the program draw on the research of others (see Looking Further, below) to create a positive school environment where the child could develop resilience and well-being. Interestingly the themes of child development (ie the urge for Experience, Mastery, Wellness, Social Interaction, and the inner world of Imagination) can be linked to a RSAnimate talk About what really motivates us (ie Autonomy, Mastery, & Purpose).

To achieve this they drew on external experts to help deliver the weekly program within schools for an entire year. As part of the evaluation process the researchers asked the students various questions including;

  • What is this class about?
  • What experiences did you have?
  • What did you understand?
  • What did you gain?
  • How was it helpful or useful?

Across primary school, where the majority of this program is run, students were becoming more aware of themselves, and their responses to the questions demonstrate a meeting of the program’s goals. Beyond this the school showed marked improvements in English & Science, and in children’s behaviour.

Personally I found strong links between this and Daniel Goleman’s work on Emotional Intelligence. This program provides a practical example of enabling students to achieve emotional self awareness, self regulation, internal motivation, empathy, and social skills (See Daniel Goleman’s five components of emotional intelligence, or by the books). All of these attributes will assist in improving individual students emotional outcomes, which should improve the quality of social interactions between students, and finally it should improve the entire school environment.

This style of program, that combines movement with breathing techniques to promote relaxation could work with Tai Chi, QigongPilates, and possible the Alexander Technique. The final choice would be on the skill of the practitioner or teacher and the culturial school environment.

All around the World

This is not just local to Israel, but can be seen across the globe as more western countries.

Looking further

A copy of PowerPoint from Nimrod Sheinman talk at the University of Leeds’ Conference 2014 (all conference papers), International Conference: Mindfulness, Education and Transformation – 2014, talk [pdf], and related videos on mindfulness.

Possible points for additional background exploration;