Contemplating Change

Vanessa Fredericks reports on a recent visit by  Dr  Patricia Morgan

Patricia Morga
Dr Patricia Morgan

Could contemplative education be the key to creating a “culture of transformative learning in a research-enriched environment” (Office of the Vice-Chancellor, Macquarie University, 2013).

Dr Patricia Morgan from the University of New South Wales thinks so.

On the 7th of May, the Macquarie University Reflection for Learning Circle enjoyed a special presentation by Dr Morgan. Dr Morgan recently received a PhD in Philosophy at UNSW in which she explored the possibilities for transformative learning through contemplative education.

Dr Morgan provided an overview of the key findings of her PhD thesis, in which she set out to learn more about how deep contemplation brought about through meditative practices could benefit student learning. She proposes that:

  1. There is a unifying force, or a “feeling nexus”, that refers to positive changes brought about by deep contemplation.
  2. Deep learning takes place along a “contemplative trajectory”, which begins with a return to the body.
  3. There are pre-predictive and somatic stages of learning that underpin cognitive assimilation of knowledge.

Morgan’s research took her beyond the classroom into the field of yoga (including green yoga, ecological yoga and yoga psychology). The combination of contemplative learning techniques and somatic practices used in yoga, brings together both the cognitive and the affective learning domains (the latter of which is often ignored in mainstream education).

So could contemplative education be the key to creating a “culture of transformative learning”?

Perhaps, but transformation takes time. You have to make the time to engage in mindful, contemplative and reflective practices, in order to allow those transformations to occur.

And that is certainly something worth thinking about.

Excited about contemplating change?  Watch a video of Dr Patricia Morgan  discussing her research at UNSW, looking into the benefits of meditation in the context of education: