Mindfulness and Community Engaged Learning

Al Akhawayn University, Morocco

Al Akhawayn University, Morocco

Al Akhawayn University, Morocco

Al Akhawayn University, Morocco

Al Akhawayn University, Morocco

Al Akhawayn University, Morocco

Al Akhawayn University, Morocco

Al Akhawayn University, Morocco

Al Akhawayn University, Morocco

UNIVERSITY

EDUCATION LEVEL

DURATION

Al Akhawayn University, Morocco

Mindfulness

Undergraduate

Smita Kumar

Every Fall since 2018

FIELD

FACULTY

#community-engaged learning #mindfulness #class #experiential learning

INTRODUCTION

Recognizing a need for new ways of teaching, in fall 2018, we at AUI offered a three-credit elective on Mindfulness to 17 students. Since then, it has been offered every Fall. This is a new form of Community Engaged Learning (CEL) where members of the community, often not having the same privileges as university students or faculty, are invited as teachers, challenging the conventional roles in the learning process.


INNOVATION

The course was offered to promote mindfulness for a greater well-being through a scholarly pursuit. The course adopted mindfulness as a pedagogy, teaching from a space of compassion and presence, and allowing students to explore mindfulness and how it is practiced. Students engaged in experiential learning activities that included a daily personal mindfulness practice, weekly critical reflective journal, mindfulness retreat, CEL and examining literature on mindfulness.


Mindfulness literature posit that repetitive practice promotes mindfulness. So, based on the students’ interest in embroidery and gardening, I as the course instructor contacted the local community and found an experienced embroidery teacher through the local women’s NGO engaged in skill building for women. Also, we invited a senior university gardener to teach gardening.

To operationalize this, instructors had a formal responsibility to teach a weekly class and evaluate students, along with a monetary and non-monetary compensation. These expectations were articulated clearly to the instructors and students.


These teaching opportunities brought the usual workers into the university teaching space, and play a role to uplift their social recognition. When asked about the fees for teaching embroidery, the teacher expressed that the fact that they can enter the gates of this university as an Usteda (teacher in Arabic), they have earned more than they have ever wanted. On a similar note, the gardener expressed that even though they have worked here for 25 years, often they go unnoticed. But now they can actually share the knowledge with the students and they will listen!


These projects not only enabled students to acquire new skills and deepen their mindfulness practice, but they also did something more. A student said, “I never knew that I could learn from someone who did not have a degree from a university.” Both teachers not only imparted skills but also shared perspectives on life, stress and failure.


This reverse CEL promotes students and educators to challenge their own assumptions and forge stronger alliances, maybe bridge some of the seemingly insurmountable class cleavages.


Tips for implementation


The educator needs to have a strong personal practice of mindfulness to teach this course. They need to practice mindfulness during the class and outside, that will ensure the course it taught in alignment with the ethical and philosophical underpinnings of mindfulness.

As faculty is also researching the teaching of this course, a note for researchers is: One needs to be careful with the research to not undermine the learning experience of students. For example: the students in my course did not know about the research till then received their grade. As I do not want to influence their mindfulness experience and to protect them from feeling pressured to participate in the research as a faculty is requesting.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

MEDIA

Mindfulness and Community Engaged Learning

UNIVERSITY

Al Akhawayn University, Morocco

Smita Kumar

FACULTY

EDUCATION LEVEL

Undergraduate

FIELD

Mindfulness

DURATION

Every Fall since 2018

#community-engaged learning #mindfulness #class #experiential learning

KEYWORDS

DESCRIPTION

INTRODUCTION

Recognizing a need for new ways of teaching, in fall 2018, we at AUI offered a three-credit elective on Mindfulness to 17 students. Since then, it has been offered every Fall. This is a new form of Community Engaged Learning (CEL) where members of the community, often not having the same privileges as university students or faculty, are invited as teachers, challenging the conventional roles in the learning process.


INNOVATION

The course was offered to promote mindfulness for a greater well-being through a scholarly pursuit. The course adopted mindfulness as a pedagogy, teaching from a space of compassion and presence, and allowing students to explore mindfulness and how it is practiced. Students engaged in experiential learning activities that included a daily personal mindfulness practice, weekly critical reflective journal, mindfulness retreat, CEL and examining literature on mindfulness.


Mindfulness literature posit that repetitive practice promotes mindfulness. So, based on the students’ interest in embroidery and gardening, I as the course instructor contacted the local community and found an experienced embroidery teacher through the local women’s NGO engaged in skill building for women. Also, we invited a senior university gardener to teach gardening.

To operationalize this, instructors had a formal responsibility to teach a weekly class and evaluate students, along with a monetary and non-monetary compensation. These expectations were articulated clearly to the instructors and students.


These teaching opportunities brought the usual workers into the university teaching space, and play a role to uplift their social recognition. When asked about the fees for teaching embroidery, the teacher expressed that the fact that they can enter the gates of this university as an Usteda (teacher in Arabic), they have earned more than they have ever wanted. On a similar note, the gardener expressed that even though they have worked here for 25 years, often they go unnoticed. But now they can actually share the knowledge with the students and they will listen!


These projects not only enabled students to acquire new skills and deepen their mindfulness practice, but they also did something more. A student said, “I never knew that I could learn from someone who did not have a degree from a university.” Both teachers not only imparted skills but also shared perspectives on life, stress and failure.


This reverse CEL promotes students and educators to challenge their own assumptions and forge stronger alliances, maybe bridge some of the seemingly insurmountable class cleavages.


Tips for implementation


The educator needs to have a strong personal practice of mindfulness to teach this course. They need to practice mindfulness during the class and outside, that will ensure the course it taught in alignment with the ethical and philosophical underpinnings of mindfulness.

As faculty is also researching the teaching of this course, a note for researchers is: One needs to be careful with the research to not undermine the learning experience of students. For example: the students in my course did not know about the research till then received their grade. As I do not want to influence their mindfulness experience and to protect them from feeling pressured to participate in the research as a faculty is requesting.

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