How do faculty help students, and themselves, thread a path through an ever-growing body of information? What practices can faculty and students find that enable them to bring a clear and sustained focus to their work in the classroom and the laboratory?
Through two workshops and discussions, held Feb. 19, participants can consider how one might approach teaching from a contemplative perspective, in both the long and short term. Faculty and students will experiment with the adaptation of several traditional contemplative practices to classroom situations including “stilling” (breath and body awareness), contemplative writing, “beholding,” and explore how these might be instantiated in a classroom, laboratory or personal practice.
Michelle Francl, professor of chemistry on the Clowes Fund for Science and Public Policy at Bryn Mawr College, will lead the workshops along with Wesleyan faculty and staff. Francl is a quantum chemist who has published in areas ranging from the development of methods for computational chemistry to the structures of topologically intriguing molecules. She takes a contemplative approach to both, introducing students to practices to help them find stillness and focus, including contemplative writing, and feels strongly that a pedagogical stance that recognizes the role contemplation plays in research and writing — scientific or otherwise — has the potential to deepen students engagement in their work.
“Studies show that contemplative pedagogy – a teaching method to integrate secular meditation and mindfulness into the classroom – can help improve cognitive and academic performance,”