Integrating Contemplative Practices into the Classroom

Posted: October 7, 2010 at 1:02 am, Last Updated: October 6, 2010 at 4:24 pm

The following was provided by the Center for Consciousness and Transformation.

Contemplation is sometimes called the art of stealing time. In a packed syllabus it can be difficult to give up time for “just sitting there,” but taking bits of time to incorporate contemplative practices can benefit students and teachers both in and out of the classroom.

The Center for Consciousness and Transformation (CCT) is happy to announce that Michelle Francl, associate professor in chemistry at Bryn Mawr College, will be working with CCT this semester as a visiting scholar.

In 2008–09, Francl held a fellowship in contemplative practices from the Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society and has had success incorporating these practices into her courses.

While at Mason, she will give several presentations on building contemplative practices into academics and scholarship from a variety of approaches.

  • On Monday, Oct. 18, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Johnson Center Gold Room, Mark Thurston of CCT will act as moderator while Francl and Daryl Nardick present “Stealing Time to Teach: A Contemplative Approach to Teaching and Learning.” Nardick holds a PhD in higher education from American University and is the director of strategic project integration with the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship at Georgetown University.
  • On Tuesday, Oct. 19, from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Mason Hall Edwin Meese III Conference Room, Francl will present “Experiments in Patience and Attention: Bringing Contemplative Practices into the Lab and Classroom,” which is geared specifically toward those in the scientific fields. As a chemistry professor, Francl draws from personal experience as she answers these two questions: Which contemplative practices might make the most difference for science students and what evidence is there that these practices are effective?
  • The third and final presentation will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 20, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. in the Art and Design Building, Room 1005. Francl will present “Creativity and Contemplative Practices,” an excellent presentation for anyone involved in the arts and humanities. What does it mean for a creative person to show up and be present, and how can the disciplines of mindfulness practice support that fundamental element of the creative process? Participants will explore ways to mindfully do “nothing” and discover how that, in turn, can make something happen.

Francl has been on the faculty at Bryn Mawr for more than two decades. She is a quantum chemist whose research interests include development of methods for computational chemistry and the structures of topologically intriguing molecules. She is also a writer whose essays on science, culture and policy have appeared in Nature Chemistry and in the collection “Parenting and Professing.” She also writes a column in a local newspaper on living the contemplative life. Her interest in contemplative practices is fed by her participation in the monastic hours with an Augustinian monastic community, as well as a longstanding meditation practice.

The presentations are free and a meal will be provided by CCT at each event. To attend, please preregister by Tuesday, Oct. 12, by sending an e-mail to infocct@gmu.edu.

Write to gazette at gazette@gmu.edu