Term of Award

Fall 2006

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Marlynn Griffin

Committee Member 1

Cordelia Zinskie

Committee Member 2

John Weaver

Committee Member 3

Joseph Ruebel

Abstract

For generations, educational philosophers, parents, business people, and practitioners have argued that public schools promote mindless standardization that stifles creativity, curiosity, and enthusiasm for learning. The case has been made that instead of mindlessness, schools should be a place where mindful individuals can flourish. Langer (1989, 1997) described mindful individuals as displaying the following characteristics: (a) openness to novelty, (b) alertness to distinction, (c) sensitivity to different contexts, (d) awareness of multiple perspectives, and (e) orientation in the present. Langer (2000) states that mindlessness might be described as a lack of these attributes. The purpose of this research was to paint a picture of mindfulness in education by studying three teachers who have been identified as mindful. This research examined what it means to be a mindful teacher by exploring the teaching practices that three mindful teachers displayed. To accomplish this goal, three intermediate teachers were observed over a three-month period. Interviews and an analysis of classroom documents were also conducted in order to ascertain common teaching practices that mindful teachers share. Longitudinal case studies showed that these three mindful teachers shared several characteristics. First, they emphasized process over outcome in problem solving. Secondly, the teachers gave students choices in the mode they used to complete classroom assignments and choices in the social settings in which these assignments were completed. Thirdly, the teachers all encouraged elaboration of thinking through effective questioning and modeling metacogntive strategies. Lastly, the teachers facilitated a similar classroom atmosphere. Few classroom management or behavior issues were noted. Emphasis was placed on building relationships with students, creating an atmosphere of fun, and having the ability to attend to multiple tasks at one time. Encouraging mindful teaching practices would have many implications on the field of education. These implications include: (a) a change in assessment practices from a linear standardized based assessment to a more open ended assessment, (b) an alignment of mindfulness with current constructivist theories and instructional practices, and (c) encouraging faculty and staff in higher education to develop relationships and connections with each other and their students.

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