There are some very upset parents this week, as one school has suggested a mindfulness technique to deal with bullying. Riversdale School in New Zealand has incited the ire of several Christian parents by tossing around the idea of implementing a controversial program during the school day that involves students reflecting on their "thoughts and emotions in a natural and calm state and in the present moment."
Apparently the technique has Buddhist ties, so obviously it will not do. The education ministry reported that at least five parents had complained about the proposal, and they were working with the school and the parents to make sure everything is dealt with appropriately.
Dylan Ditchfield, the chairman of the board of trustees for the school, confirmed that they were considering adopting the "mindfulness programme" for many reasons, one of which is bullying. He also said that bullying is no worse at Riversdale than any other school.
There was a meeting Monday night to get some community feedback, but apparently they got much more than they bargained for, as several parents were very upset about it.
A session clerk from a local church tried to distance Christians as a whole from the issue, saying, "It's not just Christians or people attending our church, there are others involved that are upset."
School officials claim that mindfulness is purely a relaxation technique and isn't specifically tied to Buddhism at all. It would simply "involve the children practising mindfulness and reflecting on their behaviour for 20-30 minutes a day."
Why parents are more upset about the "mindfulness training" and not why their kids may be missing out on 20-30 minutes of education is unknown.
As part of the consideration, Riversdale School is considering allowing students to silent read during the time. And hey -- if Christian parents are really upset over 20-30 minutes of time each day spent in reflection ... maybe they can instruct their kids to pray silently during that time. Because that wouldn't be controversial at all.
Do you think "mindfulness training" is beneficial for children in school?
Image via Tom Woodward/Flickr