Academic Calls for More Spirituality and Mindfulness in Education

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An academic from the University of Worcester is calling for a radical reform of education, introducing more spiritual techniques in order to help children cope in the 21st Century.

Dr Scott Buckler says Western education has been too focused on developing intellect, ignoring the development of the child as a whole.

His findings were presented in a conference paper at the London International Conference on Education.

Dr Buckler has explored how the ‘transpersonal’ can be applied within education. The transpersonal stems from the work of psychologists over the past 50 years and focuses on personal transformation. According to Dr Buckler, the transpersonal concerns achieving, then exceeding one’s potential through actively combining the mind and body through a variety of practises.

“While schools are worrying about league tables that only measure the intellectual ability of children, transpersonal education should embrace the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual development of our future generation,” he said.

His research indicates that over 90% of the respondents agreed that the principles of transpersonal education should be central to education. Such principles include being able to relate well to others, to ensure that education is enjoyable, and a process of self-discovery which links theory to practice.

Dr Buckler says that such principles are central to a teacher’s personal educational philosophies, something which does not necessarily apply to coaching children through exams. He also explains that a variety of transpersonal practises have been researched within schools, such as relaxation, meditation, and mindfulness.

“Many research studies have focused on the use of martial arts training and the reduction in stress and aggression, while enhancing confidence in children,” he said. “Similar research has also been conducted with a variety of meditative practise”.

This unity of the human mind and body is not a new concept Dr Buckler explains. He specifically highlights the historical and global range of methods and traditions that aim to bring such unity, “many of which have been ignored through Western education at the expense of developing the intellect”.

He said: “Through transpersonal education, children may connect with their inner depths, with others, and with their environment. At a time of monumental social, economic, and political change, one could question the exponential budgets invested in particle accelerators or the theoretical musings of the edges of the universe. Opposed to looking to the far reaches of the Universe, we should invest equally in exploring the depths of human being.”

In light of his research, Dr Buckler is calling for a more open discussion between countries to share practises which in turn may prepare children for the remainder of the 21st Century. He is also calling for teachers to return to their personal educational philosophy and to engage in collaborative discussion to continue to develop and enhance the curriculum.