Mindfulness and well-being have become critical topics in the education landscape, as students, teachers and, indeed, society face increasing struggles in their quest for balance. In response, Kevin Hawkins, in his book Mindful Teacher, Mindful School: Improving wellbeing in teaching and learning, puts the focus on teacher well-being as the starting place for addressing this critical issue.
This book presents itself as part workbook, part textbook and succeeds in providing a theoretically rich, experientially grounded look at the topic. Through the extensive use of stories, exercises and recommendations for further reading, Hawkins leads his audience through various opportunities to both understand and participate in the work. The book is organized from the personal to the institutional, beginning with a clear and compelling look at the shift in focus that is currently needed, moving to a definition of mindfulness and what it means to the individual, to teaching, and to school culture. Central to this examination is the call to “consciously cultivate our skills of attention, self-awareness, [and] emotional regulation” (p. 7) as a function of 21st century schools.
In my opinion, this book has a great deal to offer anyone with even the slightest curiosity as to what mindfulness entails and what it can offer. The book does not ask the reader to commit wholeheartedly and, in fact, asks that a healthy skepticism be employed. My only wish is that the book were presented in a more concise manner, as its length and tendency toward repetition of similar ideas may discourage busy teachers from reading it – and I firmly believe this book should be read by as many busy school staff as possible. The opportunities it provides for increased skill development in the areas of mindfulness and well-being for students, school staffs and those in teacher education make this an important resource.
Photo: Dave Donald
First published in Education Canada, September 2017
SAGE, 2017 ISBN: 1526402858