Compassionate Critical Thinking
My book, Compassionate Critical Thinking: How Mindfulness, Creativity, Empathy and Socratic Questioning Can Transform Teaching, will be published by Rowman and Littlefield in September or October, 2016. My intention is to bring teachers and other readers inside a classroom to witness instructional effectiveness with increased student participation and decreased classroom stress. The act of teaching is turned into a transformational practice. Teachers can’t add more minutes to a school day, but with mindfulness they can add depth to the moments they do have with students in the classroom. I introduce core concepts and simple practices of mindfulness.
When students feel a lack of meaning and purpose in their lives, particularly in school, they resist learning. They fight back against meaninglessness and anything they deem a threat to their dreams. Using mindfulness and a Socratic style of inquiry changes the classroom dynamic. Self-reflection, insight, empathy, and compassion are used to teach subject material. Vignettes capture dialogue between teacher and students to illustrate how mindfulness practices elicit essential questions which stimulate inquiry and direct discovery. What bigger mystery is there—what more interesting and relevant story—than the story of one’s own mind and heart and how they relate us to the world?
My purpose in writing this book is to show teachers how to turn their intentions and goals into a classroom culture of compassionate critical thinking. Many books teach mindfulness, but few provide a model for integrating it into the classroom to teach critical thinking across the curriculum. I hope this book does justice to the courage, brilliance, joy and struggles of the students who inspired it and the Lehman Alternative Community School which gave me both the opportunity to find a sense of purpose in my life and to contribute positively to the lives of others.