This Kind of Mindfulness

A friend of mine and I have decided that instead of seeking to be happy all the time, we are going to shorten the periods between moments of authentic joy.

That may sound clichéd, but it’s a ‘Conscious Discipline’, and I take it seriously, as does Mandy Herold, who heads up the Junior Prep at The Ridge School in Johannesburg. In her article of this edition of Independent Education, she says, ‘In my 25 years of studying education and working in schools, I have come to believe that Conscious Discipline has the most transformational potential for children and adults, families and homes, schools and communities.’

Furthermore, says Herold, in a classroom setting, ‘Conscious Discipline advocates for us as adults (parents and teachers) to control our own emotional responses to children, so we can be present with the child in their moment of upset, and then respond instead of react.’

The Winter 2021 edition of the magazine deals with this kind of mindfulness. It’s clear that a seismic shift in thinking is permeating ISASA member schools. They’re realising the power of the group, they’re becoming better at science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) based pedagogies, and more of them have moved onto STEAM (the ‘A’ is for the arts).

St Mary’s School, Waverley, in Johannesburg has now adopted Self-eSteam, which, say teachers Linda Bradfield, Jane McMurray, Lucy Strydom, Bianca Parirenyatwa, Esmalet van Zyl, Themba Ndimande and Emily Dingle, is a ‘… rich, deep and cognitively challenging programme.’ It’s been met with great enthusiasm by both staff and students at this ISASA member school, and is founded on project-based and inquiry-based learning programme, with discovery of self at its heart, [and] offers a framework through which learners can pose meaningful questions about their own personal vision and mission and conduct sustained enquiries into a range of topics.

This programme embodies the best of the STEM adaptations and shows that through COVID-19, ISASA schools are now starting to embrace project-based learning. You’ll see that for yourself if you read the articles submitted by Cannons Creek Independent School and St Peter’s College.

All sorts of further innovations are to be found at, for example, Kyalami Preparatory Nursery School, St Patrick’s Christian Brother’s College, Elsen Academy, Capella House, and Crossroads School. In fact, I’m confident you’ll find something that could work in your school on every page of this edition.

I’m also confident that we all stand behind the value of truthful journalism when it comes to COVID-19 reportage and schools. I value the words of experienced and honest educationalist Jonathan Jansen, writing in the Daily Dispatch on 20 May 2021

One of the best approaches to the [COVID-19 third wave] crisis comes from a top SA school which this week told parents of its focus on balancing the health risks with the academic, social and emotional wellbeing of their students.

This school scrutinises the infection trends, consults medical advisers, and applies common sense in bold letters: ‘Keeping the school open and safe is our priority.’

That’s the kind of ‘Conscious Discipline’ I applaud.