Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Guardian News: Could beditation be the answer to exam nerves?

Guardian News online published an article in it's Education>GCSEs section titled: Could beditation be the answer to exam nerves? on 4 March 2013, by a teacher at South Hampstead high school, London.

Here are the quotes I found interesting:

"A "7/11" is not the latest in teenage kicks, but a breathing exercise characteristic of a movement that is undergoing a surge in popularity in schools, known as "mindfulness". The 7/11 is a relaxation breathing exercise. Matching the counting to the breath, you breathe in for a count of seven, and out for a count of 11. It works for teachers, too.

Another technique much in evidence under mindfulness is called "beditation" – again, not something to panic a teenager's parents, but simply the practice of meditation while lying down.
About 3,000 students in Britain have been taught mindfulness techniques, and numbers are growing. This month there will be the first international conference on mindfulness in schools, in London, where teachers and experts will gather and Prof Willem Kuyken, who heads a mindfulness research unit at Exeter University, will present some new results.

The "7/11" and "beditation" techniques are being taught in schools through a programme called ".b" (Stop, Breathe and Be) designed by two teachers, Richard Burnett and Chris Cullen, who together formed the Mindfulness in Schools Project in 2007. "We were both finding great benefits from mindfulness ourselves," says Cullen, "and had started introducing simple mindfulness practices to classes in the schools where we taught. The response from students was striking and inspired us to create a programme that they would find fun, accessible and of genuine use in their lives." The course is now being taught in 12 countries.
At Bethnal Green academy, teacher Dominic Morris introduced mindfulness into his school after he read up on the subject and felt the techniques could have helped him though his own difficult teenage years. "My mind was all over the place and I was often worrying and playing things over and over," he says.
The principal at Bethnal Green academy, Mark Keary, was keen to support Morris in establishing mindfulness in the school, especially when he learned it could lead to improved concentration during lessons. The school, recently judged "outstanding" by Ofsted, serves a deprived area. "Mindfulness is a discipline that can help us tap into our students' potential," says Keary.
I also took the MBSR course and then did a four-day residential course at Bangor University to train to teach the .b course in school. Jenny Stephen, my headteacher, supports the idea and the .b course is currently being taught to all year 7 and year 10 students. "Young people live in a fast-paced and confusing world," says Stephen. "The expectations that parents and society place on students are so high. To be able to step back and appreciate yourself for who you are, and be able to stop the plates spinning is a gift. Mental wellbeing is at the route of being able to achieve anything."

Ally, a student at my school, explains why she attends mindfulness club at lunchtime. "It's just 15 minutes of quiet under a table," she says. "I don't necessarily find solutions to problems or anything, but I do come to terms with what's happening around me."

Ally says she has even been known to go through a 15-minute guided meditation with her friends before going off to a party. I dunno, teenagers these days …"

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