This educational style is based on the theory that when a teacher is mindful of what they are teaching, as well as how and why, their students reap a richer education. As stated in the program description at Naropa University in Colorado, Contemplative Education is, “From our perspective…based upon individual transformation through the cultivation of inherent spiritual human qualities, including mindfulness, awareness, empathy, authenticity, and synchronized body, speech and mind.”
Naropa University is a private college founded in 1974 by the Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche.
The Contemplative Education Program at Naropa is based on Tibetan Buddhist teachings, which prepares teachers from pre-kindergarten to high education to bring a “nonsectarian, contemplative approach” into their classrooms. The overarching theme of the curriculum is creating mindfulness, compassion and awareness in the classroom as well as within the educator.
Naropa University offers a two-year (38-credit) low-residency Master of Education program. There are two tracks: Contemplative Education and Education Beyond the Classroom for non-classroom teachers. Fall and spring semesters are online, while the summer semester is based at Naropa’s Colorado campus.
Contemplative education brings to the educator an awareness of the mind, body, spirit connections in all things. This awareness, coupled with the educator’s own contemplative practices, enriches teaching on every level. Educators from various areas of the field have found contemplative education to enhance their teaching. Graduates of the Masters program at Naropa include classroom teachers, principals, program directors and professors.
Those interested in the Naropa University online program will need to meet minimum technology requirements. An online application is available. Applicants must also send several supplemental documents.
While Naropa offers a degree in this discipline, other universities and colleges around the world offer degrees which incorporate the same principles. If you are searching for resources on contemplative education, keywords that will yield fruitful results include:
- contemplative studies
- holistic studies
- peace studies
Other institutions of higher education offer seminars, classes and conferences to advance the understanding and incorporation of contemplative education and studies into academia. They include, among others, Brown University Contemplative Studies Initiative, Emory University Contemplative Studies Initiative, as well as a growing network of higher education professionals affiliated with the Five Colleges in Western Massachusetts.
Increasing colleges and universities are incorporating various forms of the discipline into their curriculum and programs, as well. For instance, JFK University offers a graduate degree in Holistic Health Education, which brings the mind, body, spirit theories into the teaching of healthcare. Students in this program will study traditional medicine as well as integrative modalities.
Contemplative education theories are nothing new. They have been practiced in Buddhist countries for centuries. They are, however, a new concept to the western mind.
Teaching with awareness, allowing your students to learn in an environment that fosters compassion, self-reflection and peace, enhances all subject areas from pre-K to graduate school.
Naropa University Website: www.naropa.edu