Mindfulness in Middle School?
Here’s a story about troubled students at a San Francisco middle school.
But this story seemingly has a happy ending.
And that's a rare thing as school districts across California search for ways to reduce the number of suspensions of students of color, and also try to close the achievement gap separating black and Latino students from their white and Asian peers.
“Room to Breathe” is a new documentary set in San Francisco's Marina Middle School about achieving those goals.
The film follows a group of teachers and seventh grade students as they learn a meditation technique called mindfulness training.
Students who took the mindfulness training filled out a survey after they had finished.
Trainer Megan Cowan says almost 60 percent said they were able to focus better in class, 40 percent used it to avoid arguments and fights and 34 percent said it helped raise their grades.
Gentle Blythe, spokeswoman for the San Francisco School District, notes the district has hundreds of different programs in schools some of which use meditation, but the district hasn't evaluated the success of Mindful Schools training at Marina Middle School.
Documentarian Russell Long directed the film. He’s also an activist, and he’s on the board of the Oakland Based non-profit Mindful Schools.
The documentary “Room to Breathe” plays tomorrow as part of the Mill Valley Film Festival in San Rafael.
Watch a trailer of the video.
For additional information on mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn, professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the founder of the school's stress reduction clinic, spoke with KQED about his book "Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment."