Mindfulness and The Education Factory

Mindfulness and the Education Factory

The word education comes from the Latin educare – to lead out, and the best education systems lead us out of ourselves. Sadly, very few of us experience the best education systems. Schools and universities around the world often more closely resemble factories for churning out economically productive units than institutions for leading people out of themselves.

The educationalist Sir Ken Robinson has done a great deal to highlight the damage done to creativity in factory-model education systems around the world. He describes the experiences of many successful creative people who did badly at school and only found their ‘element’ when they had left and ‘recovered from their education’.

The idea that talented people need to recover from their education before they can flourish is a damning indictment of our education systems. Ken Robinson’s criticisms focus on the effect of the current education system on those students who don’t fit the traditional academic mould and whose talents aren’t recognised. But the system can also damage students who are not labelled academic failures. Indeed, many highly successful students are left equally scarred by their educational experiences.

This hidden damage is done because of the central role which fear plays in the educational factory model. An unstated assumption which underpins much of our education system is that without fear students will lack the motivation to learn. The problem with this model is that there is no empirical evidence to demonstrate that fear is an essential or even useful ingredient in the learning process, whereas there is considerable evidence to show the damage it can cause to students individually and collectively.

Unless and until our model of education changes radically, many students will need to develop tools which can help them to manage fear and anxiety so that they do not undermine their capacity to learn and to flourish. The practice of mindfulness does not offer a ‘quick fix’ for the structural problems of our education system but it can provide students with new and more skilful ways of approaching their anxieties. Our next blog post explores the relationship between fear and learning in a little more detail.

Mindfulness Teaching Post at Cambridge University

Exciting opportunity for a mindfulness teacher to join Cambridge University  Mindfulness teaching staff on a teacher training pathway to deliver mindfulness to students. Please contact
Dr. Elizabeth English, D.Phil (Oxon)
Mindfulness Practitioner
Cambridge University

Email: Elizabeth.English@admin.cam.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)1223 429926 or Mobile: (07811) 289671
Web: http://www.cam.ac.uk/current-students/student-health-and-welfare/mindfulness-at-cam


Exams coming up? Feeling under pressure? Try this Two minute stress buster


Are you revising, feeling stressed out and under pressure with exams coming up ? Did you know that taking a mindful moment can help you concentrate and focus , it will also strengthen your immune system and helps to switch your nervous system out of flight/fight mode and into a relaxed aware state…

Try this short stress buster
5 senses drill
1. Pause what you are doing for a moment and take one or two deep breaths to help bring you into the present moment.
2. Look around you, and silently name three things that you see in your immediate vicinity
2. Now opening to the sounds around you , silently note and name three things that you can hear right now
3. Bringing your attention to your body, silently name three sensations that you can feel in this moment ( maybe warmth, tingling, contraction, coolness….. .)
4. Bringing your attention to smell and taste , what do you notice in your immediate awareness when you bring your attention to these senses- lightly name what you experience.
5. Take one or two breaths to finish this mindfulness exercise.

Repeat this exercise every now and then to deliberately bring your awareness to what is happening in the present moment and to build  your resilience to deal with exam anxiety and general pressures around this time of the academic year by cultivating mindfulness in this way.

learn without fear!

Going to University can be both daunting and exciting. Entering a new academic year also brings new challenges. Students do there best and enjoy the experience if their stress levels are manageable. We know that some stress or anxiety is normal and infact may even be necessary to motivate us. Too much fear and we shut down and find it heard to cope. This applies not just to managing university to life, but to learning as well. Finding skills for life can be crucial and make the difference between having a positive experience or a stressful one. 



Mindfulness skills training can really help with the following:

Staying calm

Concentration and focus

Managing emotions

Enjoying small things in life


Take a look at our Universities guide to see if there is a course in your University.



TOP TIPS for student wellbeing


early warning signsthis area is being redevelopedpay attention slidejust be slideshare your success

look after your body

Resources from recent Symposium on Mindfulness in HE

Forty of us gathered at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre for a symposium on Mindfulness in Higher Education on 25th April. The day was divided into two parts  focusing on the research and theory behind introducing mindfulness into Higher Education and on the practical aspects of setting up and running  mindfulness based courses in a university .photo[3]


Participants said they really appreciated both the range of topics presented and the opportunity for discussion and networking. The interest in this day outstripped the number of places and therefore we will be running further days in London in September this year and Oxford next year. For information about the next symposium please contact us 


Slides from the Presentation on 25th April 2014

slides from Chris Cullen presentation at HE day 25.04.2014

Slides from Ruth Collins MBCT courses in a university counselling services setting

Slides from Ariana Faris Mindfulness and Performance Anxiety













Mindfulness for study – article on mindfulness specifically for helping people with dyslexia and adhd

Karisa Krcmar from Loughborough university has developed a a unique Mindfulness for Study programme for students at Loughborough University who have specific learning differences such as dyslexia and adhd.  They have presented and published about this programme in a variety of places. If you want to find out more see  article from Dyslexia Review for your interest.

Dyslexia Review Article

Also check out their twitter account @mindfulnesstudy



Mindfulness in Higher Education Symposium, Oxford Mindfulness Centre


We have now run 4 very successful one day symposiums held at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre and in London. The events were led and facilitated  by Ariana Faris, Chris Cullen, Steven Stanley and Kate Malleson and in the last three events we have been joined by Ruth Collins, Siobhan Lynch and Kitty Wheater.  Over 120 participants from a wide range of universities and colleges have now attended these days. Some were based in their institutions counselling services, others were administrators and academics. All shared their knowledge and experience about what makes a successful mindfulness course in higher education.  The symposiums have been oversubscribed and we feel this signals the interest in bringing mindfulness to students and academic staff. For more information contact:  info@mindfulnessforstudents.co.uk or Oxford Mindfulness Centre.

Here are some of the photos and participants comments from a fascinating and enriching days:




















The symposiums aimed to assist people in developing strategies for effectively integrating Mindfulness training into Higher Education and making it accessible to all students. We focused on:

1 Research and local evidence supporting the use of MBSR/MBCT or Mindfulness Based adaptations in Higher Education: Mindfulness and learning, enhancing academic performance, reducing stress and anxiety.

2  Mindfulness based models for Higher Education contexts: case studies, MBCT adaptations including frantic world, clinical and non-clinical populations

3  The Case for Mindfulness in Universities: Practical strategies for engaging management and academic staff in this process, in order to gain support for introducing Mindfulness courses to students. This includes methods for presenting the academic/wellbeing/student retention as well as economic arguments.

4  Setting up 8 week courses: advantages and disadvantages of locating MBI’s within student counselling services or academic support services within Universities and Colleges of Higher Education. Some of the challenges involved in introducing MBI’s to student populations.

Here are links to some of the presentations held at the most recent symposium which was held in May. Steven Stanley asks that if you would like a copy of his paper you contact him directly on his email ( see contact details on about page)

Presentation by Chris Cullen at HE day – OMC 11.05.2015

Mindfulness in Highter Education May 2015 – presentation by Ruth Collins

Slides from Ariana Faris Mindfulness and Performance anxiety



Mindfulness and Stress Reduction

Jon Kabat zinn discuss the case for mindfulness and stress reduction, how mindfulness can help build resilience and tools to deal with the challenges that arise in life: ill health, work pressure, stress and anxiety, etc.

“Mindfulness gives me the chance to reach my full potential in all situations in life. With mindfulness I have an option out of the crippling fear, shakes and anxiety that set me back and the chance to believe that I could achieve my potential, in my recital, in a job interview and in social situations. The time I’ve invested in mindfulness has proven to be one of the best choices that I’ve made.” Quote from student who attended an 8 week mindfulness course

Mindfulness is discussed in the House of Commons

Mindfulness is discussed in the relation to mental health, well being and unemployment in the House of Commons.

Read more…