#MindfulHacks — Can Mindfulness Help Educate Our Children for the World of Work in 2065?

Mindfulness is WD 40 for Education — & that’s Official!

In my 2nd piece in this short new series looking at #MindfulHacks for Mindful Living and Mindful Working, I looked at all the Science around Mindfulness and how it works on the Brain.

In this 3rd piece I want to look specifically at Mindfulness and the crucial role it can play in educating and preparing our Children for their future — And consider this 1st, 50 years ago a young person left school knowing 75% of all they’d need to know for the next 40+ years of their working life — Today that same person would be leaving school with as little as 2% of what they will need to know to be employed in 2065!’

A salutary thought, n’est pas?

Mindfulness has been described as being WD 40 for Education — But Why? If we take a look at what it says on the tin, perhaps we’ll find some clues.

Well, WD40 ‘Stops squeaks’, ‘Drives out moisture’, ‘Cleans and protects’, ‘Loosens rusted parts’, &, ‘Frees sticky mechanisms’.

And for me it’s the last 2 claims that in this context have the most resonance, although all have some merit!

In Chapter 5 of my book I go into the whole area of Mindfulness and Education in particular detail, but this piece today is also based on my recent work in the field with Head Teachers and implementing Mindfulness in their schools.

Schools kill creativity

This comes from the title of a famous TED talk given by Sir Ken Robinson in 2006. It currently has in excess of 34 million views.

The core of his argument is a simple one. Given the challenges we face creativity is as important as literacy in the education of our children and the education system needs to recognise and act upon this simple truth.

However, he didn’t just call for the reform of how we educate young people for the future — Their future in work and in life — In fact he called for a complete transformation and the key to this transformation in his view was not to standardise education, but to personalise it.

To build achievement upon discovering the individual talents of each child. To put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passion.

Because without a passion to learn, and without creativity, resourcefulness and resilience, how are we going to prepare children for a future that we really have no idea what it will look like?

Given that a child today will be leaving school with as little as 2% of all they’ll need to know for their future working life, how can we prepare them not only for tomorrows world of work, but also for their next 40+ years in employment?

Mindful Hacks

Mindfulness can and already is playing a key apart in transforming how we approach education and the notion of Hacks as part of this is both a defining and driving force.

To Hack is to improve — To get to know something — To think outside the box. To Hack is to collaborate — To be agile — To be responsive. To Hack is to be playful — To change the way things are done — To be prepared to fail, &, as Ken Robinson has also said:

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original”.

To Hack is to move away from rigid hierarchies — To adopt a problem based, problem-solving approach — To be transparent — To be accountable — To take permission to act on new opportunities.

Why is this so important?

I believe this is important, particular to the future of Education, because it is this skillset and this mindset that is exactly what is needed by the next generation and the generations to follow, to take them from the known to the unknown and make it their own!

Imagination is the source and creativity is the impetus for every form of human achievement and how we educate for the future has to step-up to the plate and create the conditions under which both can flourish.

No more linearity, conformity and batching young learners. No more aiming too low and succeeding…

We need to reset the bar

And I believe introducing Mindfulness into main-stream educational practice — making it part of the pedagogy — and making it available in every school, in all parts of the UK and across the world, will help us to reset the bar and aim high.

It can become a key driver in a transformational leadership approach that is so necessary to unsticking educational practices and creating new pardigms — Because if we continue to do as we’ve always done, we’ll continue to get what we’ve always got and that just won’t be good enough for our children and their children yet to be born.

Where Mindfulness practice has been introduced into classrooms in schools, in the UK, the USA and Canada for example, they have found:

  • a lowering in levels of cortisol (the stress hormone)
  • improved attention and concentration
  • a calmer classroom and happier children
  • improved maths scores — go figure? &
  • more collaborative learning, more sharing, less falling out.

Whilst outside the classroom parents report their children are sleeping better.

That sounds rather like it might be ‘stopping squeaks’ & ‘loosening rusted parts’ then at the very least!

Meanwhile a recent study of 4-year-old children in China who had undergone Mindfulness training in the classroom, found that it had dramatically improved levels of self-control.

MindUp

In the USA and Canada, a MindUp programme has been introduced into schools, with the support of the Hollywood actress Goldie Hawn and the neuro scientist, Dan Siegal.

This programme follows a curriculum of up to 15 lessons, designed to teach the children about the Brain and become more aware of their thoughts and emotions. In essence, to begin to learn how to learn and develop the ability to be aware and understand their own thought processes.

This is encouraging children to think about thinking, or to give it its technical term — Metacognition.

The research, which is now taking place on the effects this is having, has found that as a child’s awareness develops they gain a better control over their own thinking and the ability to direct their Attention to improve their learning.

Whilst stress levels naturally reduce and the child becomes a more confident, happier, independent learner, generally more positive in their outlook — so, perhaps we could say here that Mindfulness is also helping to ‘drive out moisture’ and ‘freeing-up sticky mechanisms’ too?

And in the UK?

In the UK meanwhile a ‘Mindfulness in Schools’ project has been offering 8 week programmes and Tonbridge School in Kent and Hampton School in Middlesex, were the first British schools to include Mindfulness in their curriculums for all 13–14 year olds.

This is an older target age group than in both the USA and Canada though, where the MindUp programme has typically been introduced at around the 4th or 5th grade and has also included introducing ‘3 Minute’ breathing exercises and keeping ‘Gratitude Journals’.

The Big Takeaway

The big takeaway from all this is I feel, that children who are taught to be Mindful — To pay Attention in the present, intentionally and without judgement, are better positioned to attain more and succeed both in school and in later life.

They are getting the inside track on developing an emotional and social skill for living smarter, happier and healthier lives — They are developing their resourcefulness and building their resilience — They are clearing their minds, focusing their Attention and tapping into their creativity and ingenuity.

How many adults do you know who would really benefit from all that?

A Mindful Revolution?

I have written about 5 Steps to a Mindful revolution in my book and also in this recent piece on Thrive Global and 1 of those 5 Steps is quite simply to put day-to-day Happiness at the heart of every policy decision.

I would go further though and suggest that we also consider the real value of Happiness as part of this and we must invest early in the lives of our children — the ‘clean and protect’ part perhaps? — So that they can indeed grow-up to become independent, creative, collaborative, resilient, resourceful, productive and happy adults, able to contribute fully both economically and socially!

Surely it’s in all our interests to want our Children to be Mindful, and have a teaching profession properly equipped and transformationally led to make this a reality.

Paul Mudd is the author of ‘Uncovering Mindfulness: In Search Of A Life More Meaningful’ available on Amazon and www.bookboon.com; the ‘Coffee & A Cup of Mindfulness’ and the ‘Mindful Hacks For Mindful Living & Mindful Working’ series. He is also a Contributing Author to The Huffington Post and a Contributing Writer to Thrive Global. Through The Mudd Partnership he works with business leaders, organisations and individuals in support of change and transformation, leadership excellence, business growth, organistional and individual wellbeing and well doing, and introducing Mindfulness in the workplace and in every place. He can be contacted at paul@themuddpartnership.co.uk and you can follow the continuing journey uncovering Mindfulness on Twitter @TheMindfulBook and at @Paul_Mudd