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  • Writer's pictureMary Doherty

The Path Forward in Education

"..the one thing that I would like to share with our young children, on this path forward, is a lifelong love of learning."

THE OTHER DAY a question popped up on my media feed, “What’s the one thing you love most about yourself?” As I sipped my morning coffee, for reasons, I cannot explain, I actually considered the question and gave it my full attention. The answer seemed to flow into my mind instantly - It was … my ability to learn. Interestingly, I did not always see myself as someone who learned things quickly. All throughout my school years, I never even thought I was intelligent. But today, although the trepidation and fear of failure definitely creeps in, or my tendency, in particular, to bury myself in the learning while neglecting my other needs, like most of us, I find that discovering something about myself is highly rewarding. In fact, finally grasping an elusive concept, or developing a new skill set is an inspirational adventure. I now know that as human beings, our innate evolutionary journey is to grow through the learning process.

As a teacher and parent for over 30 years, the one thing that I would like to share with our young children, on this path forward, is a lifelong love of learning. This involves removing the obstacles that are in the way of being open and receptive to the world around us. It means teaching children to question some of their thought patterns, to acknowledge and to welcome their emotional states and to witness their own sensory perceptions and reactions to internal and external input. It’s not about learning how to be more mindful or present, but rather how to stop blocking our innate conscious awareness. We are, in fact, already aware, open, curious and spiritual beings - that is our natural state; we are born that way. Young children are like flowing water in a stream of consciousness. Somewhere along the way the stream develops blockages, like fallen branches and debris.

We need to teach children exactly how to remove those obstacles and return to their natural state of mindful presence. That river, of creative energy, that flows through every human being, can be reclaimed through the smallest shift in awareness. That shift must begin with the primary caregivers, parents, teachers, school administrators and coaches. What is most important, as caring adults in the lives of young children, is to model for them a daily practice of conscious awareness and mindful presence in our own lives, especially in our homes, classrooms and school communities.

“The Conscious Childhood” is a publication with tools to help adults guide children back to their natural state of awe and presence so that their minds can be free to explore and learn without the burden of anxiety, fear and negativity that hijack their young impressionable minds and interrupt their natural learning processes. The content is especially designed for classroom and homeschooling educators, who are navigating through an already demanding work load of expectations, learning outcomes, and fully packed daily schedules. These foundational elements of a mindful and conscious education are seamlessly integrated into already existing academic curriculums so that teachers, parents and students can navigate through Social and Emotional Learning, Critical Thinking, Executive Functioning, and Cognitive Engagement with the foundation of having a deep sense of self, a clear active awareness and as best selling author, Michael Singer, calls it, a mind that can be a great gift. The science and data behind the effectiveness of incorporating mindfulness into existing daily activities is solid. Parents and teachers alike report a “flow” at home and in the classroom, a remarkable increase in positive social interactions, responsible behaviors, focused attention, creative problem solving and learning engagement.

Perhaps, the best case for this conscious shift in teaching children is the opportunity for everyone involved to feel the joy of connection it brings to our authentic selves, to each other and the world that surrounds us.

Mary Doherty is a veteran teacher for over 20 years. She is a writer of academic lesson planning for 21st century learning,ELA and a Mindfulness curriculum for a new generation of classroom and homeschooled children

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