07 June 2013
Location: University of Westminster, 35 Marylebone Road, London NW1 5LS - Room MG14

There is a growing interest in contemplative approaches to education: bringing knowledge, understanding and practice of stillness, quietness, mindfulness into an increasingly pressured HE (and FE) environment. We propose an experiential day school that will model a contemplative approach and will also enable colleagues to place contemplative learning within the context of relevant literature in the field. This event will build on the SEDA-funded labyrinth-making event held at the University of Westminster in April 2012 as well as on the University of Westminster’s Learning and Teaching Symposium held in July 2013 when a ‘Mindfulness’ workshop was held and received with considerable interest. It will create a reflective space in which colleagues can share and experience some contemplative practices and will offer participants the opportunity to:

  • Explore the concept of contemplative learning and its potential within HE;
  • Develop their awareness of the growing literature on contemplative learning;
  • Become familiar with practical examples of contemplative learning in different HE contexts;
  • Experience some contemplative practices including a labyrinth walk;
  • Share reflections on how contemplative approaches might aid your own pedagogic practice or your work in student or staff development.

09.30              Tea and registration10.00              Welcome and Introduction to the day: Jennifer Bright, University of Westminster10.15              Keynote Speaker: Iddo Oberski, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh. Senior Lecturer in Learning and Teaching in the Centre for Academic Practice at Queen Margaret University and joint Programme Leader of the MSc Professional and Higher Education.Keynote: Contemplation as experiential un-conceptualisation: a dialogue on learning, teaching and educational developmentTogether we’ll set the scene for a day’s exploration of contemplative practices in the context of learning, teaching and educational development. There is an exponentially growing body of research exploring the effects of meditation, contemplation and mindfulness on a wide range of physical and psychological factors. However, the best way to find out what such practices can contribute to learning is to try them for yourself.  I will draw on my experiences, theory, practice, and a current project, to try and model a contemplative pedagogical experience appropriate to the Higher Education context.11.15              Workshop 1: Introduction to the labyrinth                        Jan Sellers, University of Kent (retired): Labyrinth Specialist With just one winding path to the centre (unlike a maze), the labyrinth offers a peaceful walking meditation. Jan will introduce this beautiful resource and its uses in university life – within and across disciplines.11.45              Labyrinth walks – facilitated by Jan Sellers and Jennifer Bright  12.30              Plenary: Sharing reflections  12.45              Lunch – Book stall13.30              Workshop 2: Mindfulness and Loving KindnessAriane Agostini, Regent’s College, London Mindfulness is a particular way of paying attention, in the moment, without judgement.  How might practising mindfulness be helpful for students?  Ariane will briefly discuss the lessons learnt from a Mindfulness Module she delivered for postgraduate students.  She will then guide us through a sister practice called Metta (or Loving Kindness) Meditation which aims to develop compassion for ourselves as well as for others.14.40                Break14.50                Workshop 3: ‘Grounding Meditation’ Liz Oldham, University of WestminsterThis meditation practice is several hundred years old and comes from the Zen tradition.  It serves to ground our energies and to slow down the busyness of the mind. Liz will lead us in an   experiential session and follow it with a talk about its origins and uses.15.30                 Workshop 4: Open SessionTime to share and hear about practices we have used ourselves  16.00                Plenary: Sharing reflections 16.30                Close  – Tea and Biscuits­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­