Contemplative pedagogy.

Several major universities and other centers are developing curricula which include contemplative and meditation practices. My own university, Montclair State University, is developing a center of its own, and I have been invited to be a Fellow in the group that will investigate including contemplative practices into our own courses.  I have written several posts on this subject of which this is one. The links in this paragraph represent only a sampling of the work going on in this area.

Montclair’s site explains its purposes thusly:

Contemplative pedagogy involves teaching methods designed to cultivate deepened awareness, concentration, and insight. Contemplation fosters additional ways of knowing that complement the rational methods of traditional liberal arts education. As Tobin Hart states, “Inviting the contemplative simply includes the natural human capacity for knowing through silence, looking inward, pondering deeply, beholding, witnessing the contents of our consciousness…. These approaches cultivate an inner technology of knowing….” This cultivation is the aim of contemplative pedagogy, teaching that includes methods “designed to quiet and shift the habitual chatter of the mind to cultivate a capacity for deepened awareness, concentration, and insight.” Such methods include journals, music, art, poetry, dialogue, questions, and guided meditation.

In the classroom, these forms of inquiry are not employed as religious practices but as pedagogical techniques for learning through refined attention or mindfulness. Research confirms that these contemplative forms of inquiry can offset the constant distractions of our multi-tasking, multi-media culture. Thus, creative teaching methods that integrate the ancient practice of contemplation innovatively meet the particular needs of today’s students.

I am looking forward to joining the Montclair State group this spring, and welcome any comments you might have which would inform our efforts.



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