Exploring mindfulness in/as education from a Heideggerian perspective

Journal of Philosophy of Education 55 (2):302-313 (2021)
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Abstract

Over the past decade or so within this journal, there have been critical debates concerning the role of mindfulness within education, the influence of neoliberalism on education in general and well-being interventions specifically, and the relevance of the philosophy of Martin Heidegger for critiquing modernity including the nature and purpose afforded education. In this article, we propose that these debates are sufficiently interrelated to develop a more unified argument. We will show how a Heideggerian perspective is conceptually rich, in both its heritage, as it draws upon both East-Asian wisdom and western thinking, and its engagement, as it confronts the implications of what Heidegger called a ‘technical-era’, for offering such a unified critique. The focus of this critique is on instrumental forms of mindfulness (mindfulness ‘in’ education), which when framed by neoliberalism has rather narrow goals concerning individual well-being and performance. In contrast, more critical and integral forms of mindfulness (mindfulness ‘as’ education) offer the potential for more holistic and authentic learning. Throughout the article, we discuss how Heideggerian philosophy offers a number of useful concepts (e.g., enframing, Dasein, authenticity, meditative thinking), which are able to both critique the instrumentalisation of approaches like mindfulness by neoliberalism and speak to more holistic education oriented toward more authentic being in the world.

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