To continue the exploration of the role meditation can play in attaining happier, fuller lives, today I have a lesson plan which puts students in the role of both subject and scientist.
Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying:
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Today, the students get involved.
This lesson is a randomly controlled experiment which uses qualitative and quantitative data to answer the question: Does meditation make us happier?
Divide the class into three groups:
- An open meditation group (OM)
- A focused attention group (FA)
- A control group (C)
The OM group will practice mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness is generally understood as focusing on the present moment. It emphasizes stillness of mind and eliminating concerns about future and past events. OM students should be coached to focus on breathing and clearing their heads.
The FA group will practice focused meditation. They will choose an idea, thought or goal and will spend their meditation period emphasizing that one idea in their mind. FA students should be coached on visualization techniques centered around their chosen thought or goal.
The control group is so important and integral to the value of any experiment. These students may not feel as though they are doing anything, because they are asked to carry on as they normally would. In other words, they will deliberately not meditate. Explain to these guys that without them the study can’t happen!
All groups will collect data. Students will be given these mood trackers akin to a punch card at a coffee shop. They should track their mood – happy vs. sad – at integrals predetermined by you (for example: when they wake up and when they go to bed). These cards represent qualitative data.
Meanwhile, they will collect quantitative data by measuring their blood pressure. Work with your students to teach them how to take their blood pressure and decide as a class when the most informative time for measurement would be (hint: align this with post-meditation sessions for maximum effect).
This lesson is ripe for teaching the power of comparing different types of data, discussing the importance and necessity of having control subjects, and for practicing techniques for taking longitudinal data. I recommend a week of data collection. From there, graphing can be practiced and students can analyze data sets and outliers.
For younger kiddos, the qualitative data cards can serve as an excellent introduction to measuring and can initiate self-exploration of feelings and how they change based on what we are doing. Additionally, here are suggestions from Edutopia on establishing a routine for quiet time.
Full lesson plan: Does meditation make us happier?
Have fun. Good luck!