Contemplative Pedagogy in Times of Grief and Uncertainty: Teaching in a Global Pandemic
Keywords:Contemplative pedagogy, COVID-19, Mindfulness, Affective Pedagogy, Interdependence, Social Change, Critical Pedagogy
We are teaching during a global pandemic, where all sense of normalcy has disappeared. How can we, as contemplative educators, provide an anchor for students’ grief and practice sitting with discomfort to develop resiliency to endure this time of great uncertainty? We have an opportunity to authentically reframe this time of social upheaval as an opportunity to address a series of adaptive challenges. Contemplative practices can allow us to cooperatively and ethically respond to the myriad of challenges confronting us during a global pandemic. But, first, educators have a major role to play in the classroom in making hope more convincing than despair (Williams, 1989). I offer a reflection on ways to engage the whole student, invite strong emotions into the classroom, and build a community built on trust to collectively navigate uncertain terrain while developing personal agency. Some major questions addressed in this paper are the following: As we collectively navigate this new and uncertain pandemic landscape, how can we help our students stay afloat and not mire in despair? How can we stay attentive to widespread cultural and social losses while offering authentic hope? How do we allow space for our students to grieve the state of the world, to understand what we can and cannot control, and help guide them toward an inner sense of personal existence on the Earth with the power to make choices during this altogether important and decisive time?
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