Mindfulness and STEM Education (Spring, 2016)

Mindfulness and STEM Education (Spring, 2016)

David Forbes (Brooklyn College, School Psychology, Counseling, and Leadership) and Gillian Bayne (Lehman College, STEM Education)

U ED 72200, Spring 2016, The Graduate Center, CUNY

Crosslisted as: IDS 81650

Tuesdays, 4:15-6:15PM, 3 credits


This course will examine novel, contemporary and foundational methodological approaches and the application of mindfulness into STEM education, and more broadly into the learning sciences (i.e., the science of teaching and learning in formal and informal contexts).  An overarching goal of the course is to understand, develop and contribute to a nexus of theories, ideas, research activities and practices that can be used to improve teaching and learning experiences at the student, teacher, teacher education and policy levels via drawing from a sociocultural framework and the Integral Model.  Students can look forward to growing as scholars, researchers, global citizens and reform minded education leaders, while they come away from the course experience with an awareness of a) the psychological, social, cultural, and political context of STEM and the learning sciences b) their own values, thoughts, and feelings about teaching urban youth STEM content that is synergistically aligned to mindfulness practices, and c) the psychological, social, cultural, and political context of the lifeworlds of urban youth and their relationships to STEM.

We will teach and use the mindfully infused STEM practices with the intention to share best possible outcomes for urban youth and for society in a holistic way.

Through the Integral model students will (a) be exposed generally to mindfulness, (b) learn about the recent controversies around the use of mindfulness in education and in other institutions, and as a component of this, mindfulness will be examined in relation to science – both the science of mindfulness, and the controversy over why mindfulness proponents believe there is a need turn to the sciences in order to be taken seriously, and (c) examine mindfulness and meditation in integral terms, so as to find a conscious, integrally informed way to use it.  The integration will be considered in the context of both being educators and people interested in  personally and socially promoting optimal human development, and in working with urban youth, while bringing in mindfulness as a critical, socially conscious force for personal and social change, not just as a technology.   We will examine the use mindfulness in dialogue in the classroom, and use it to look at and/practice dialogue around difficult issues like white privilege and Black Lives Matter, and challenging sources of power in society.

On May 2, 2016 Futures Initiative Faculty Fellow Gillian Bayne and Urban Education Ph.D. student Aderinsola Gilbert led an exciting and productive workshop during Teach@CUNY Day on “Advancing STEM Teaching and Learning in New York City’s Metropolis.” Read the recap here.

In a recent Salon piece on mindfulness in the classroom, Prof. David Forbes writes about neoliberal education and how it uses mindfulness for purposes that run counter to its own principles. (Prof. Forbes would like to note that he did not select either the title or sub-title for this piece.)