Faculty of Education professor presents paper with international colleague at Oxford University
Dr. Christopher Martin, in collaboration with Dr. Oren Ergas of Hebrew University and Haifa University, presented their recent work exploring the educational value behind the concept of mindfulness. Their joint paper, On the justification of physical education: Body-based mindfulness and R.S. Peters’ cognitive criteria was featured at the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain Annual Conference at Oxford University, UK.
In the paper, Martin and Ergas call for a reconsideration of the way in which physical education has been understood in curriculum. Gym class is often viewed as a time for students to burn off energy or learn to stay fit—or compete. Martin and Ergas argue that physical education also has a unique role in developing student’s decision-making abilities.
“Rather than considering it as scaffolding to the more ‘important’ business of learning math, history, chemistry etc.,” says Ergas. “ We plotted a route through mindfulness practice to forge an understanding of the body as educative in its own terms.” In the paper, they point out that physical activity undertaken with a mindfulness approach can help students become more aware of how their thoughts and emotions register in a bodily way. Along with this enhanced awareness, they argue, comes better decision-making.
Martin says, “we want to show how mindful approaches to physical education can actually help young people learn to make more reflective and informed life choices about what they want to learn, what kind of person they want to be, how to treat others, and so on.”
Martin and Ergas see their paper as part of a larger project to advance mindfulness as a useful concept for bridging between the body and the development of the mind. “What this means”, says Martin, “is to try and understand what mindfulness means as a real educational idea and not simply as a form of therapy.”
“We hope that this paper makes a contribution to reaffirming the importance of physical education while broadening its scope through the understanding of mindfulness,” says Ergas.