The Scottish Government states that ‘Education should open the doors to opportunities… to become successful learners, confident individuals, responsible citizens and effective contributors to society.’ Indeed, the focus on the mental wellbeing of pupils is evident in the 2018-19 Programme for Government which includes a commitment to invest in school counselling services. With the recognition of the impact mental health and wellbeing have on a pupil’s educational experience, I have chosen mindful pausing in the classroom for my inquiry, this was of particular interest to me having explored quiet prayer with my class, and observed the positive impact this has had on the class. Indeed, pupils themselves have recorded that they find quiet prayer has a calming effect on their outlook and that they find an inner peace. I was keen to expand on this finding by focusing more deliberately on mindfulness and its place in setting up the pupils for learning.
Alan McLean (2009) proposes that thoughts and emotions are the prime movers in determining how a pupil behaves in their learning environment. Pupil learning can face many barriers, they can simply be tired, prefer to chat to friends or daydream. However, there can also be a multitude of pressures or anxieties that originate from a pupil’s home life which can shape pupil approach to learning. These factors could result in emotions which could also impact a pupil’s sense of self-worth and therefore their ‘learning stance’. In his submission to the Scottish Government’s inquiry on pupil motivation, Alan McLean states that ‘Classrooms are more likely to engage learners if they nurture three factors, namely ‘I belong’ feelings, ‘can do’ beliefs and ‘want to’ attitudes.’ By establishing mindful pausing into the classroom morning routine, this inquiry aims to show that mindful pausing can play a part in trying to build what McLean calls ‘energising self-emotions’ which allow pupils to be more accepting of themselves as well as others.
The aim of this inquiry was two-fold. Firstly, to show that mindful pausing can aid pupils’ readiness to learn by allowing them a moment to clear their minds of whatever is preoccupying their thinking, particularly at the start of the school day. Secondly, to see if mindful pausing in the classroom will have a positive impact on pupils’ perception of themselves as learners by fostering a growth mindset.