Reading, Writing And Character

The new push to teach perseverance, self-control, and mindfulness at school.

Students return for their first day of classes at Barwell Road Elementary School in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, July 9, 2012. (AP)

Students return for their first day of classes at Barwell Road Elementary School in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, July 9, 2012. (AP)

American children need reading, writing and arithmetic.  They need science, technology, engineering, art, literature.  They also, says a new movement, need a psychological tool kit filled with attention, perseverance, emotional control, “mindfulness.”  Some now call it character.

The habits of mind that make all else possible.  Taught in school.  Classrooms are now taking time out for meditative moments.  Getting centered.  Getting mindful.  The call it self-regulation.  Emotional learning.  Right alongside the “three-R’s”.

This hour, On Point:  teaching mindfulness at school.

-Tom Ashbrook


Ingrid Wickelgren, an editor at Scientific American Mind. Her latest piece in the September/October issue of Scientific American is “The Education of Character: Scientists, politicians and celebrities are remaking schools as gyms for the brain where teachers build the mental brawn for attention, perseverance and emotional control.”

Kimberly Schonert-Reichl, applied developmental psychologist and a professor in the Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology and Special Education at the University of British Columbia.

Becky Bruenig, 3rd grade teacher at Basalt Elementary School.

From Tom’s Reading List

Scientific American “A tiny dark-haired girl bedecked in a brown dress with a crinoline skirt sits calmly on the rug in front of her class of fellow kindergartners; her pink boots, dotted with sparkles, are tucked neatly under her legs. Wielding a small metal rod, she taps on a triangular chime. At the tone, her classmates clasp their hands together like a cup, with the back of one hand in the palm of the other, close their eyes, fall silent, and proceed to say and do apparently nothing.”

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