One of the present priorities in European education is socio-emotional learning. Mindfulness, an approach aiming at raising awareness of one`s inner states, may be helpful in this endeavour. Experts from diverse fields – educational and clinical psychology, psychotherapy, sociology, andragogy and religion studies – have joined with support of the 4EU+ Alliance in order to study mindfulness applied in European schools. Research evaluating impact of mindfulness training in schools has rarely been conducted in European educational context, while American and Australian research point at positive effects on mental health and cognitive performance of students. Moreover, research on mindfulness implementation is clearly lacking in Europe. Cooperation of researchers from Charles University, Heidelberg University and University of Warsaw should lead to a shared knowledge base on experience with training mindfulness in European educational backgrounds, a systematic overview of best practices related to mindfulness training and a detailed research design suitable for verifying the impacts of mindfulness training and conditions of its implementation in European schools. Given the varied states of mindfulness implementation in schooling systems of Czechia, Poland and Germany, a comparative perspective is needed.
In the first phase of the project, members of the team mapped findings of existing heterogeneous mindfulness research regarding pupils and students and outlined general methodological challenges of the research designs. Participants also discussed their experience with mindfulness training and research and shared several ideas for further research in this domain. Not only little is known about the mechanisms by which mindfulness training may impact children’s mental health, there also remain questions on how to ensure providers` qualifications and their control in a given educational context. Apart from that, wider aspects such as mindfulness legitimation in different socio-cultural environments should be addressed.
Evidence-based research of the potential of mindfulness applied in education could then inform European policies in elementary or higher education and thus contribute to children`s capacity to face challenges of the modern world where mental health and socio-emotional skills are in high demand.
The project was supported by a Charles University 4EU+ minigrant (team led by Dr. Jana Draberová).