|||

Contemplative Education and Extra/Co-Curricular Programming

The university is well-practised at educating the mind for critical reasoning, critical writing and critical speaking, as well as for scientific and quantitative analysis. But is this sufficient? In a world beset with conflict, internal as well as external, isn’t it of equal if not greater importance to balance the sharpening of our intellects with the systematic cultivation of our hearts?”

This quote comes from Dr. Arthur Zajonc, a professor at Amherst College in Massuchusetts, but I found it in a reflection by Dr. Janna Rosales on the importance of balancing critical thinking contemplative practices” in learning, published recently in University Affairs.

Dr. Rosales’ article is full of incredible insights, and it contributes to a growing internal dialogue about the nature of attention and its role in teaching difficult, abstract topics (like leadership”, for example).  She — as part of the contemplative education movement” — is advocating for the use of a variety of techniques and approaches that allow students to really connect to the lesson at hand.  In our modern world of multitasking and constant distraction, as Dr. Rosales suggests, the ability to truly focus is an integral skill.  

This internal dialogue” of mine began with an article on paying attention to insights as our best method of teaching and learning difficult concepts, such as leadership”.  Rock & Schwartz’s article recognize attention density as the mechanism that makes an insight — a sudden realization or understanding of a topic — become an actual change in behaviour.  Rosales and the scholars of contemplative education advocate for techniques that heighten attention, emphasize self-reflection, and develop personal connections to what we’re learning.  It strikes me that there’s an important crossroad here, between attention density and the techniques of contemplative education.

There are some inspiring examples of these approaches in the article.  I can also recall a few that I’ve been taught to use, without realizing the fell into the category of contemplative education.  “Inkshedding” is the act of just putting a pen to paper and writing out everything and anything that comes to mind, sometimes in response to a particular topic, sometimes not (e.g., 750words.com).  “Empathy walks” are a technique of inciting one-to-one social bonds at retreats, while at the same time emphasizing quiet dialogue on a particular topic with a single partner.  

So, my mind jumps now to application in content programming.  For instance, how can we make use of contemplative education mechanisms in the design of the Global Leadership Certificate, where we have already emphasized the importance of self-reflection?  This is something I hope to explore in the near future!



    Next → Attention and awareness are fundamental qualities of humanity, crucial to almost every human activity, and yet little time, effort or care is spent to systematically train or cultivate focused attention in educational environments. Attention and awareness are fundamental qualities of humanity, crucial to almost every human activity, and yet little time, effort or care is spent ← Previous In telling ourselves that we can neatly distinguish between equality of opportunity on the one hand and equality of outcome on the other, we’ve created a system with vast inequalities of outcomes. In telling ourselves that we can neatly distinguish between equality of opportunity on the one hand and equality of outcome on the other, we’ve
    Latest posts
    The Verge → Researchers detail huge hack-for-hire campaigns against environmentalists
    Conversations, cybernetics, and Theory of Mind
    → Why are we exceeding the Earth’s carrying capacity?
    IDEO U's Creative Confidence Podcast → Roger Martin, Bianca Andreescu, and systemic strategy
    Reuters → Systemic lessons from South Korea’s Patient 31
    Axle → Divide & conquer
    FSG → Can Snow Clearing Be Sexist?
    The Verge → As Lambda students speak out, the school’s debt-swapping partnership disappears from the internet
    The Talk Show → “Bring It On, Haters”, With Special Guest Ben Thompson
    Facebook → Starting the Decade by Giving You More Control Over Your Privacy
    Motherboard → Leaked Documents Expose the Secretive Market for Your Web Browsing Data
    The Verge → Google’s ads just look like search results now
    MacMillan → Interference by Sue Burke
    Systemics and design principles in support of Tiago Forte’s PARA framework
    → Microsoft wants to capture all of the carbon dioxide it’s ever emitted
    → US announces AI software export restrictions for China
    → Science Conferences Are Stuck in the Dark Ages
    → This wireless power startup says it can charge your phone using only radio waves
    → Segway’s newest self-balancing vehicle is an egg-shaped wheelchair
    → Twitter announces Bluesky: a team seeking and developing an open standard for social media
    → Elon Musk attempts to explain Twitter to normal people in court
    → TED and YouTube launch global climate initiative
    → Embracing multilingualism to enhance complexity sensitive research
    → The ‘Amazon effect’ is flooding a struggling recycling system with cardboard
    → John Kerry, Arnold Schwarzenegger wage ‘World War Zero’ on climate change
    → Combining semantic and term frequency similarities for text clustering
    → Bad RCS implementations are creating big vulnerabilities, security researchers claim
    → 2019 Tech Trends Report — The Future Today Institute
    → Medical Crowdsourcing: Harnessing the “Wisdom of the Crowd” to Solve Medical Mysteries
    → Report Launch - OPSI Primer on AI for the Public Sector
    → “Level Up”: Leveraging Skill and Engagement to Maximize Player Gameplay