Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York
 


Sit, Breathe, Learn

Our teaching tip this month comes from a Fordham PhD, David Storey (Philosophy 2011), who now teaches at Boston College. He was generous enough to make a three-minute video teaching tip with us this summer. You can see the video here:

Here's David's Quick Hit Teaching Tip:

A couple of years ago, as students tapped away at smart phones in the moments before class, I began to wonder whether and to what extent they were truly present. So I started leading a one-minute silent meditation before class.

As class begins, I ask students to sit up straight, feet on the floor, hands in laps, and eyes gazing down in front of them. I ask them to relax faces, throats, and chests, to breathe normally, and to follow their breath. I ring a prayer bowl, we sit silently for a minute or so. Then I ring the bowl again, and we begin class.

Based on my experience and on my reading (see, for instance: http://chronicle.com/article/Youre-Distracted-This/138079/]in), I think this practice, or something like it, would be helpful for any class.

Our students live in a frenetic and fragmented world. Even one minute of meditation encourages distractions to fall away. Research shows that even small amounts of mindfulness meditation produces measurable benefits, like improved attention and retention.

A couple of years ago, as students tapped away at smart phones in the moments before class, I began to wonder whether and to what extent they were truly present. So I started leading a one-minute silent meditation before class.

Students might giggle or laugh or not take it seriously, at first, but if you’re consistent, they will accept it and eventually look forward to it. Soon, one minute won’t feel like enough, but we don’t want the exercise to eat up class time.

Some might object that this forces Buddhism or another religion on students, but, as I tell my students, the meditation is not prayer. It’s an exercise that strengthens the mind in the way that other exercises strengthen the body.

You can check out David's blog at http://davidestorey.com.

We know that David is not alone in this practice. Here's a link to a blog post at the Chronicle of Higher Education, for instance: http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/breathingpedagogy/26230. Do you use meditation in your teaching? Tell us about it! We'd love to hear.

And we'd love to share your tips with the rest of Fordham. Write to us.


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