Teacher as Environment: The Embodiment of Heartfulness in Teaching Practice
AdvisorBohac Clarke, Veronika
AuthorMansfield, Brenda Elizabeth
Committee MemberDavis, Brent Eric
Tapp, Dianne M.
social and emotional learning
heart rate variability
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThis research is an attempt to expand the topic of “heart in pedagogy” by exploring how the cultivation of positive emotional states may affect the pedagogical relationality between teacher and student and, ultimately, classroom climate. After all, “we never educate directly, but indirectly through means of the environment” (Dewey, 1944, p. 19). A heartfulness approach in education complements the contemporary practice of mindfulness, which has been incorporated into various curricula as a component of Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) initiatives (Schonert-Reichl & Hymel, 2007; Schonert-Reichl, 2017; Zakrzewski, 2014). This paper focuses on the possibility that connecting the concept of heart in pedagogy to its physiological, social and emotional, and contemplative roots may offer new insights into heartfulness in teaching practice. Teachers participated in a series of heartfulness workshops, which included contemplative practices such as loving-kindness, appreciation, and compassion meditations. In addition, a heart-based biofeedback stress-management program was implemented to help teachers learn to deliberately shift into positive emotional states, thereby complementing the contemplative aspect of the program with an embodied awareness of heartfulness. Although a contemporary appreciation of the heart’s intelligence has been achieved through the natural sciences, the interpretive approaches drawn upon for this research study go beyond the natural science perspective and return the question of the role of the heart to its roots in lived experience. There are many in-depth studies on mindfulness in education, but the subject of heartfulness has not yet been given a detailed phenomenological exploration on par with the depth of study of mindfulness research. With the hope of developing a new understanding of heartfulness in teaching practice, I posed the following questions: • How do teachers who practice HRV biofeedback understand heartfulness?• How might the embodiment of heartfulness practice influence teaching practice? This interdisciplinary study may provide new insight into the ways heartfulness informs mindfulness in pedagogy. Supporting teachers’ well-being is one way to foster positive teacher-student relationships, improve career satisfaction and longevity, and contribute to building healthy communities.
Werklund School of Education