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Contemplative Education in Unexpected Places: Teaching Mindfulness in Arkansas and Austria

by Daniel Holland - 2006

Mindfulness meditation is increasingly recognized as a health promotion practice across many different kinds of settings. Concomitantly, contemplative education is being integrated into colleges and universities in order to enhance learning through reflection and personal insight. The confluence of these trends provides an opportunity to develop experiential curriculum that promotes both health and learning through the teaching of contemplative practices in higher education settings. Such curriculum, if indeed it is believed to be a valuable development in higher education, must not be reserved only for elite and highly competitive schools serving traditional college students, but must be integrated into campuses of all kinds and made accessible to any student. This emphasis on accessibility will need to consider the growing interest in contemplative learning across economic, religious, and ethnic groups, geographic contexts, and individual differences, including disability. The growth of contemplative curriculum in higher education will also need to be accompanied by meaningful and valid curriculum assessment methods in order to abide by the standards of contemporary university settings as it gently transforms many such settings. This article describes the development of an experiential course in mindfulness that was taught on two very different college campuses. The author's personal experiences and preparation for the course, the course content, the impact of the course on students, and reflections on contemplative practice as a movement in education are offered as an example of the potential for contemplative education in some unexpected places.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 108 Number 9, 2006, p. 1842-1861
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12684, Date Accessed: 9/19/2021 10:24:24 PM

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About the Author
  • Daniel Holland
    University of Arkansas at Little Rock
    E-mail Author
    Much of DANIEL HOLLANDís work involves international disability issues, focusing on children and adults with mental disabilities. He was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in 2002, when he did field research with grassroots disability activists in postcommunist Eastern Europe. He was a fellow at the Solomon Asch Center for the Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict at the University of Pennsylvania in 2003. In 2004, he was a Fulbright Senior Specialist in Austria, where he taught contemplative education in a university for the applied sciences. In 2005, he was a research scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center, focusing on civil society developments that foster disability rights and deinstitutionalization of people with mental disabilities in postcommunist Eastern Europe. He was named a Mary E. Switzer Distinguished Fellow for 2006 by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research in the U.S. Department of Education for his research in international disability human rights issues. He is currently on the faculty of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
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