A study of the effects of mindfulness in five primary schools in New Zealand

Bernay, R
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Journal Article
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The Institute of Education, Massey University

programme delivered in five primary schools in New Zealand. The participants included 126 students ranging in age from 6-11 years old and six classroom teachers. The programme was developed by one of our researchers (Rix) to align with The New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007) and with a bi-cultural focus in mind. A Māori model of hauora (holistic well-being), Te Whare Tapa Wha, was incorporated as a key element of the programme. Te Whare Tapa Wha describes a Māori perspective on health and well-being which suggests that the house (whare) and its parts are viewed as a metaphor for different aspects of one’s health such that if one part of a house (or one’s health) is not in order, then there will be an effect of the other parts of the house (an individual’s health). Thus, physical health, spiritual health, family health and mental health are all interconnected for a person’s well-being, which is also a critical aspect of mindfulness. Classroom teachers were asked to complete fortnightly journal entries as part of a qualitative analysis of the effectiveness of the programme. A follow-up survey was completed three months after the last mindfulness class to assess any potential long term effects. Findings suggest that the programme may be efficacious for increasing calm, reduced stress, and improved focus and attention. In addition, results indicated enhanced selfawareness, and the development of positive relationships. A number of these outcomes were observed in both students and classroom teachers. These findings suggest that mindfulness practice can make a strong contribution to the key competencies outlined in the New Zealand curriculum. The design of the programme, findings of the study, and future recommendations for implementing mindfulness practice in New Zealand schools are discussed.

Teachers Work, vol.11(2), pp.201 - 220 (20)
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The New Zealand Journal of Teachers' Work is a free, national peer-reviewed journal containing articles of interest to Early Childhood, Primary, Secondary and Tertiary teachers. The journal aims to disseminate New Zealand research on and by teachers and also other articles on current issues which may be of interest to teachers.