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Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public SchoolsReforming Secular Education or Reestablishing Religion?$
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Candy Gunther Brown

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469648484

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469648484.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

Mindfulness in Education

Mindfulness in Education

(p.188) Chapter 9 Mindfulness in Education
Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools

Candy Gunther Brown

University of North Carolina Press

Chapter 9 assesses MindUP, Mindful Schools, and Calmer Choice as representative examples of mindfulness-basedprograms (MBPs) with a mission of weaving “secular mindfulness” into the fabric of public-school curricula and school culture. Public-school MBPs foreground neuroscience, while avoiding religious-sounding terms such as “Buddhism” or “meditation.” Many MBPs were developed by Buddhists or Buddhist sympathizers and/or reflect Buddhist-derived assumptions, values, and world views. Controversies, notably a legal challenge to Calmer Choice in 2016, center on complaints of religious coercion. Certain Christians, Buddhists, and meditators note barriers to “opting out” of school programs and/or complain that mandatory mindfulness violates conscience. Because MBP leaders envision mindfulness as more than a curriculum—a way of life—training and certification often require public-school teachers to commit to personal practice, participation in retreats (often led by Buddhists at Buddhist centers), and supervision by guiding teachers (many of them Buddhist meditators). Guidelines for “ensuring secularity” advise subtracting religious language, gestures, and objects, without questioning assumptions undergirding the “core practice.” The chapter argues that secular framing paradoxically increases the potential of public-school MBPs to instill beliefs, values, and practices widely associated with religion.

Keywords:   MindUP, Mindful Schools, Calmer Choice, mindfulness-based programs (MBPs), neuroscience, controversies, religious coercion, opting out, mandatory mindfulness, conscience

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