“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”– Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness in teaching adapts a diverse set of ideas originating in Eastern philosophies. The benefits of using mindfulness in the classroom can range from stress reduction, focusing on being present in the moment, and in-depth self-reflection. Introduction of mindfulness can include simple one to two-minute exercises, or weaving the philosophy into the pedagogy of a course…. or using feng shui in your classroom decoration.
What is Feng Shui?
The heart of this ancient tradition stems from the Taoist view of the universe that calls for everyone to live in harmony and balance. It also takes credence from the science of Geomancy that has been practices within every native culture, revolving around the idea that the land is alive and filled with Chi (or energy). If the Chi moves too quickly, it will speed away from you. If it moves too slowly, it will become stagnant and have no positive effect on you.
In short Feng Shui is the desire for balance, unity and harmony in every aspect of the home, or in our case, the classroom. The movement of chi is a subtle change that creates a positive feelings.
I feel Feng Shui can be very relevant to classroom design at international schools in the EARCOS region as many of our students are sensitive to this sense of space. It is innate in their culture and can feel uncomfortable in our disjointed western designs. All Asian cultures have used the ideals of feng shui in their culture and tradition, mostly without even noticing it – so it can help students feel comfortable – which leads to more engagement, success and confidence.
I have been studying Feng Shui for awhile. Since 2002 to be precise (Ouch! That is a long time). I first studied with Feng Shui Master Joseph Yu in Toronto and Hong Kong. It’s fascinating to be able to work in Asia where Feng Shui plays such a strong component of design and culture.
I use it all the time automatically, whenever I enter a space – because to me it feels ‘better’ after I do. Things just flow easier. So I was excited when I asked by Heather Naro at ISE to develop a workshop for ISE teachers and then to present at EARCOS in Kota Kinabalu.
I’ve included my slides from my presentation (and below the handouts I developed to accompany my presentation). I designed my slides as a visual to my explanations – so it may not answer all your questions. But it can give you an awareness of what feng shui is. And if you are familiar with feng shui – it might give you some ideas of how you can use it in your classroom.
Recently, at SIS, I asked to present a small presentation on things I do as a ‘hobby’. Naturally, I was going to present on my art process and show my own art work – but many people have seen my work at my shows – and its pretty much a given that an art teacher will do ‘art. So I decided to present on my love for feng shui and how I use it to develop my teaching space as well as common areas in the school.