Rechtschaffen, D. (2014). The Way of Mindful Education. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. 318 pages. IBSN:978-0-393-7-895-0
Reviewed by: Alexa D’Angelo, Hunter College
In a time of increased state testing and common-core chaos, Daniel Rechtschaffen shares an alternative approach to education. The Way of Mindful Education, joins the mindfulness movement currently taking place across the globe, emphasizing the importance of mindful exercises, for both educators and students. Rechtschaffen claims that we expect high levels of attention and focus from students, but do not teach children how to focus (10). It is this oversight that the book attempts to correct. The Way of Mindful Education, highlights the need for mindful education, while offering sample curricula and exercises for a mindful classroom. Rechtschaffen has supplied all the tools a teacher would need to begin to apply to their classroom setting, and cultivate a mindful learning experience. This book is written primarily for educators, however anyone working with children could benefit from its teachings.
Rechtschaffen recognizes that a mindful education is entirely dependent on the mindfulness of teachers. In other words, teachers must practice what they preach! Part II asks teachers to focus on themselves and increase their own mindfulness (41). Part II asks teachers to take time to focus their attention inward in the hope of developing a mindful attitude, which they will inevitably pass onto their students (41). Through the cultivation of embodiment, attention, heartfulness, interconnectedness and emotional intelligence, teachers can better identify what is needed to creative a positive, mindful classroom (86). These tools could prove helpful not only for the wellbeing of one’s student’s, but for the well-being and consciousness of individual educators.
Part IV offers a myriad of different exercises for teachers to implement in their classrooms in the hopes of creating a mindfull and productive learning environment. The exercises range from stillness practice, to journal entries, dialogue prompts, along with drawing and writing activities (161). These simple activities are used to introduce mindful playing, eating, moving, breathing etc., in a manner that is engaging and exciting for students. Part IV also offers sample scripts to guide teachers through their introduction of mindful exercises (184).
The Way of Mindful Education encourages educators to improve their classroom experience using the various tools and exercises offered. It not only allows teachers to recognize an increasing need for mindful education, but also offers comprehensive and attainable methods as to how to go about introducing mindful education to their students. This book could greatly improve the academic experiences of children of all ages and backgrounds.