Hey, teachers of the future, there may be something even more daunting than standardized tests coming your way. To wit, “people coming of age in the 21st century will need to develop unprecedented levels of intercultural cooperation, mutual moral concern, creativity, and skill in effectively addressing the challenges of the world today…” That’s the word from the Mind and Life Institute, and that’s the basis for a two-day conference that will take place in Washington, D.C. on October 8 and 9. The Curry School of Education is co-sponsoring the event, in connection with Harvard, Stanford, the American Psychological Association and others. Ten doctoral candidates from Curry will be among the attendees. And the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and possibly the world’s most seamless example of mind-body integration, will be among the panelists for both days.
Manifesting the Buddha of Compassion, the Dalai Lama will attend a Curry School-co-sponsored conference aimed at restoring reflection and empathy to education.
For Marcus Ingram, who is among those 10 Ph.D. students, “reflection is extremely important in any type of educational experience.” He was previously a chaplain at a North Carolina university, and he says that work made him “even more aware of how important holistic pursuit is to education.”
Panel topics include “Envisioning the World Citizen” and “Compassion and Empathy.” Audrey Breen, the Curry School spokeswoman, says the conference dovetails with Curry’s larger approach towards being a “global citizen.” Certainly seems a far cry from drilling the state capitols—and probably a welcome one, at that.
In her doctoral work, Jennifer Elliott is focused on technology and what happens to students’ brains “when they’re gaming,” she says. The former third-grade teacher observes, “students spend less time at play and interacting with each other.” She attributes the growing social isolation among students to the increased emphasis on standardized testing. “We’re taking away the time that students learn compassion and empathy and friendship,” she says, noting, nonetheless, that the Mind and Life conference will, most likely, have a more philosophical than practical bent.
Chris Elliott, another Ph.D. student and no relation to Jennifer, is exploring how “spiritual identity intersects with gender identity in college-age men.” Not surprisingly, he describes the conference as “pretty perfect.”
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