But anything that offers success in our unjust society without trying to change it is not revolutionary – it just helps people cope. In fact, it could also be making things worse. Instead of encouraging radical action, mindfulness says the causes of suffering are disproportionately inside us, not in the political and economic frameworks that shape how we live. And yet mindfulness zealots believe that paying closer attention to the present moment without passing judgment has the revolutionary power to transform the whole world. It’s magical thinking on steroids.

Instead of setting practitioners free, it helps them adjust to the very conditions that caused their problems. A truly revolutionary movement would seek to overturn this dysfunctional system, but mindfulness only serves to reinforce its destructive logic. The neoliberal order has imposed itself by stealth in the past few decades, widening inequality in pursuit of corporate wealth. People are expected to adapt to what this model demands of them. Stress has been pathologised and privatised, and the burden of managing it outsourced to individuals. Hence the pedlars of mindfulness step in to save the day.

Mindfulness advocates, perhaps unwittingly, are providing support for the status quo. Rather than discussing how attention is monetised and manipulated by corporations such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple, they locate the crisis in our minds. It is not the nature of the capitalist system that is inherently problematic; rather, it is the failure of individuals to be mindful and resilient in a precarious and uncertain economy. Then they sell us solutions that make us contented, mindful capitalists.

Source: The mindfulness conspiracy | Life and style | The Guardian

mindfulness has become the perfect coping mechanism for neoliberal capitalism: it privatises stress and encourages people to locate the root of mental ailments in their own work ethic. As a psychological strategy it promotes a particular form of revolution, one that takes place within the heads of individuals fixated on self-transformation, rather than as a struggle to overcome collective suffering.

Source: How mindfulness privatised a social problem

Via: HEWN, No. 314

I updated “Mindfulness in Education” with selections from “ClassDojo App Takes Mindfulness To Scale in Public Education (Ben Williamson) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice” and “School-Based Mindfulness Training and the Economisation of Attention: A Stieglerian View: Educational Philosophy and Theory: Vol 47, No 8”.

James Reveley has further argued that school-based mindfulness represents a ‘human enhancement strategy’ to insulate children from pathologies that stem from ‘digital capitalism.’ Mindfulness in schools, he adds, is ‘an exercise in pathology-proofing them in their capacity as the next generation of unpaid digital labourers.’ It trains young people to become responsible for augmenting their own emotional wellbeing and in doing so to secure the well-being of digital capitalism itself.

According to Davies, however, much of the stress experienced by children is actually caused more mundanely by the kinds of testing and performance measurement pressures forced on schools by current policy priorities. ‘The irony of turning schools into therapeutic institutions when they generate so much stress and anxiety seems lost on policy-makers who express concern about children’s mental health,’ he argues.

Source: ClassDojo App Takes Mindfulness To Scale in Public Education (Ben Williamson) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Mindfulness training, this article argues, is a biopolitical human enhancement strategy. Its goal is to insulate youth from pathologies that stem from digital capitalism’s economisation of attention. I use Bernard Stiegler’s Platonic depiction of the ambiguousness of all attention channelling mechanisms as pharmaka-containing both poison and cure-to suggest that this training is a double-edged sword. Does the inculcation of mindfulness in schoolchildren empower them; or is it merely an exercise in pathology-proofing them in their capacity as the next generation of unpaid digital labourers? The answer, I maintain, depends on whether young people can use the Internet’s political potentialities to mitigate the exploitation of their unpaid online labour time.

Source: School-Based Mindfulness Training and the Economisation of Attention: A Stieglerian View: Educational Philosophy and Theory: Vol 47, No 8

James Reveley has further argued that school-based mindfulness represents a ‘human enhancement strategy’ to insulate children from pathologies that stem from ‘digital capitalism.’ Mindfulness in schools, he adds, is ‘an exercise in pathology-proofing them in their capacity as the next generation of unpaid digital labourers.’ It trains young people to become responsible for augmenting their own emotional wellbeing and in doing so to secure the well-being of digital capitalism itself.

According to Davies, however, much of the stress experienced by children is actually caused more mundanely by the kinds of testing and performance measurement pressures forced on schools by current policy priorities. ‘The irony of turning schools into therapeutic institutions when they generate so much stress and anxiety seems lost on policy-makers who express concern about children’s mental health,’ he argues.

Source: ClassDojo App Takes Mindfulness To Scale in Public Education (Ben Williamson) | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice

Mindfulness training, this article argues, is a biopolitical human enhancement strategy. Its goal is to insulate youth from pathologies that stem from digital capitalism’s economisation of attention. I use Bernard Stiegler’s Platonic depiction of the ambiguousness of all attention channelling mechanisms as pharmaka-containing both poison and cure-to suggest that this training is a double-edged sword. Does the inculcation of mindfulness in schoolchildren empower them; or is it merely an exercise in pathology-proofing them in their capacity as the next generation of unpaid digital labourers? The answer, I maintain, depends on whether young people can use the Internet’s political potentialities to mitigate the exploitation of their unpaid online labour time.

Source: School-Based Mindfulness Training and the Economisation of Attention: A Stieglerian View: Educational Philosophy and Theory: Vol 47, No 8

The irony of turning schools into therapeutic institutions when they generate so much stress and anxiety seems lost on policy-makers who express concern about children’s mental health. One doesn’t have to subscribe to a belief in ‘neoliberalism’ or ‘individualism’ in order to understand the source of much that makes schoolchildren unhappy-one simply has to look at the relentless exam and inspection schedule they have to follow.

Source: Happiness and children | openDemocracy

See also,

McMindfulness aims to reduce the stress of the private individual and does not admit to any interest in the social causes of stress.

McMindfulness practices psychologize and medicalize social problems. Rather than a way to attain awakening toward universal love, it becomes a means of self-regulation and personal control over emotions. McMindfulness is blind to the present moral, political and cultural context of neoliberalism. As a result, it does not grasp that an individualistic therapized and commodified society is itself a major generator of social suffering and distress. Instead, the best it can then do, ironically, is to offer to sell us back an individualistic, commodified “cure” – mindfulness – to reduce that distress.

By negating and downplaying actual social and political contexts and focusing on the individual, or more so, the individual’s brain, McMindfulness interventions ignore seeing our inseparability from all others. They ignore seeing our inseparability from inequitable cultural patterns and social structures that affect and constitute our relations, and thereby ourselves. McMindfulness thus forfeits the moral demand that follows this insight: to challenge social inequities and enact universal compassion, service and social justice in all forms of human endeavor.

Without a critical account of the social context of neoliberal individualism, mindfulness as a practice and discourse focused on the self minimizes social critique and change and contributes to keeping existing social injustices and inequitable power structures intact.

Source: How capitalism captured the mindfulness industry | Life and style | The Guardian

See also,

Ed-tech relies on amnesia.

Ed-tech is a confidence game. That’s why it’s so full of marketers and grifters and thugs. (The same goes for “tech” at large.)

Source: HEWN, No. 297

Despite scant evidence in support of the psychopedagogies of mindsets, mindfulness, wellness, and grit, the ed-tech industry (press) markets these as solutions to racial and gender inequality (among other things), as the psychotechnologies of personalization are now increasingly intertwined not just with surveillance and with behavioral data analytics, but with genomics as well. “Why Progressives Should Embrace the Genetics of Education,” a NYT op-ed piece argued in July, perhaps forgetting that education’s progressives (including Montessori) have been down this path before.

Does It Make More Sense to Invest in School Security or SEL?” Edsurge asked its readers this summer. Those are the choices – surveillance or surveillance.

What an utter failure of imagination.

Source: The Stories We Were Told about Education Technology (2018)

We are confronted by the complicated/complex division everyday in education. Do I want to know if a medical students has remembered the nine steps of a process of inquiry to work with a patient or do I want to know if they built a good raport? How often do we choose the thing that is easier to measure… simply because we can verify that our grading is ‘fair’. How often do we get caught in conversations around how ‘rigourous’ an assessment is when what we really mean is ‘how easy is it to defend to a parent who’s going to complain about a child’s grade’.

Learning, like love, can’t have a lean six sigma chart designed for it. Once we’ve identified something in our education space as complex (as opposed to complicated) a new set of tools has to emerge. We have to have deep conversations about what our goals are. We need to talk about what our values are and how they translate to our lives. And then we need to engage with our system in a broad based, patient way that allows us to make change. As Snowden would put it, Probe, Sense and Respond. Try some things, see how they work, iterate and try again. You’re never going to get to best practice, because the situation is always changing.

We need to understand that our protectionist strategies (limiting screen time, web blocking apps) just further put dangerous and mean activities our children on the internet further underground. We need training, we need dialogue, we need courage… but most of all we all need to get together and decide that our goal is to try and make the internet a better place… rather than trying to hide from it. No LSS approach is going to do that. Only human approaches… only messy results.

Source: Making Change in Education II – Complexity vs. Lean Six Sigma (learning isn’t like money) – Dave’s Educational Blog

we all need to get together and decide that our goal is to try and make the internet a better place… rather than trying to hide from it.

Indeed. Bring safety to the serendipity. I suggest indie ed-tech and Domain of One’s Own.

No LSS approach is going to do that. Only human approaches… only messy results.

Once we’ve identified something in our education space as complex (as opposed to complicated) a new set of tools has to emerge.

Human approaches, tools for complexity:

We are confronted by the complicated/complex division everyday in education.

Start “foregrounding complexity as the baseline”. Behaviorism and mindset marketing are not human approaches because they bikeshed human complexity. They are convenient detours, not direct confrontations.

There is no path toward educational justice that contains convenient detours around direct confrontations with injustice. The desperate search for these detours, often in the form of models or frameworks or concepts that were not developed as paths to justice, is the greatest evidence of the collective desire among those who count on injustice to give them an advantage to retain that advantage. If a direct confrontation of injustice is missing from our strategies or initiatives or movements, that means we are recreating the conditions we’re pretending to want to destroy.

Source: Paul C. Gorski – Grit. Growth mindset. Emotional intelligence….

How often do we choose the thing that is easier to measure… simply because we can verify that our grading is ‘fair’. How often do we get caught in conversations around how ‘rigourous’ an assessment is when what we really mean is ‘how easy is it to defend to a parent who’s going to complain about a child’s grade’.

Picking the easy to measure things and building pedagogy and culture around data and behaviorism disguises the ways they kill us.

The irony of turning schools into therapeutic institutions when they generate so much stress and anxiety seems lost on policy-makers who express concern about children’s mental health

Source: ClassDojo app takes mindfulness to scale in public education | code acts in education

Here’s a rule of thumb for you: An individual’s enthusiasm about the employment of “data” in education is directly proportional to his or her distance from actual students. Policy makers and economists commonly refer to children in the aggregate, apparently viewing them mostly as a source of numbers to be crunched. They do this even more than consultants and superintendents, who do it more than principals, who do it more than teachers. The best teachers, in fact, tend to recoil from earnest talk about the benefits of “data-driven instruction,” the use of “data coaches,” “data walls,” and the like.

Making matters worse, the data in question typically are just standardized test scores – even though, as I’ve explained elsewhere, that’s not the only reason to be disturbed by this datamongering. And it doesn’t help when the process of quantifying kids (and learning) is festooned with adjectives such as “personalized” or “customized.”

But here’s today’s question: If collecting and sorting through data about students makes us uneasy, how should we feel about the growing role of Big Data?

Part of the problem is that we end up ignoring or minimizing the significance of whatever doesn’t lend itself to data analytics. It’s rather like the old joke about the guy searching for his lost keys at night near a street light even though that’s not where he’d dropped them. (“But the light is so much better here!”) No wonder education research – increasingly undertaken by economists – increasingly relies on huge data sets consisting of standardized test results. Those scores may be lousy representations of learning – and, indeed, egregiously misleading. But, by gum, they sure are readily available.

“What’s left out?”, then, is one critical question to ask. Another is: “Who benefits from it?” Noam Scheiber, a reporter who covers workplace issues, recently observed that big data is “massively increasing the power asymmetry between exploiters and exploitees.” (For more on this, check out Cathy O’Neil’s book Weapons of Math Destruction).

Anyone who has observed the enthusiasm for training students to show more “grit” or develop a “growth mindset” should know what it means to focus on fixing the kid so he or she can better adapt to the system rather than asking inconvenient questions about the system itself. Big data basically gives us more information, based on grades, about which kids need fixing (and how and when), making it even less likely that anyone would think to challenge the destructive effects of – and explore alternatives to – the practice of grading students.

Predictive analytics allows administrators to believe they’re keeping a watchful eye on their charges when in fact they’re learning nothing about each student’s experience of college, his or her needs, fears, hopes, beliefs, and state of mind. Creating a “personalized” data set underscores just how _im_personal the interaction with students is, and it may even compound that problem. At the same time that this approach reduces human beings to a pile of academic performance data, it also discourages critical thought about how the system, including teaching and evaluation, affects those human beings.

Source: When “Big Data” Goes to School – Alfie Kohn

Our public school policymakers want us to do the later. In fact, they have a whole pedagogical justification for ignoring the needs of children.

It’s called “academic tenacity,” a “growth mindset” or “grit.”

And it goes something like this:

That child isn’t learning? If she just worked harder, she would. 

It’s the political equivalent of “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” applied to the classroom.

And it’s super helpful for politicians reluctant to allocate tax dollars to actually help kids succeed.

But what no one wants to admit is that grit is… well… shit.

It’s just an excuse for a society that refuses to help those most in need.

Yet when anyone suggests offering help to even the playing field – to make things more fair – a plethora of policy wonks wag their fingers and say, “No way! They did it to themselves.”

It’s typical “blame the victim” pathology to say that some kids get all the love, time and resources they need while others can do without – they just need more “grit” and a “growth mindset.”

Source: Grit is Sh!t – It’s Just an Excuse to do Nothing for Struggling Students – gadflyonthewallblog

As with the corporate flavor, ed-tech mindfulness, like other mindset marketing, disguises the ways they kill us.

Source: Mindfulness in Education – rnbn

And so we can firmly put the insistence on data-driven instruction in the trash bin of bad ideas.

It is unscientific, unproven, harmful, reductive, dehumanizing and contradictory.

The next time you hear an administrator or principal pull out this chestnut, take out one of these counterarguments and roast it on an open fire.

No more data-driven instruction.

Focus instead on student-driven learning.

Source: The Six Biggest Problems with Data-Driven Instruction | gadflyonthewallblog