Evidence That It Works
A recent study focused on university students who took a course that used contemplative pedagogy, including a form of lectio divina, as they read young adult literature. Results suggest that students who used this contemplative reading practice gained a deeper insight into themselves and the content, and also regained their passion for reading and writing.
Why Does It Matter?
The “outside-in” approach to education doesn’t always connect academic content to students’ lives and often leaves students questioning the meaning of what they’re learning. This approach can eventually lead to decreased student motivation and well-being. Indeed, studies have found that students who set personal goals and take time to think about the person they want to become enjoy greater academic success and engage in less risky behavior.
Motivated by both their personal experience and their observation of students over the years, the professors who designed the course above challenged the “outside-in” approach. Instead of asking students to deconstruct texts, they invited students to “enjoy them and engage with them in a way that helps them construct meaning for themselves as they ask: who am I, why am I here, and why should I care?”
The outcome? As one student wrote at the end of class: “What I loved about this class was that it was more than the typical ‘academic’ class: I learned more about myself, my beliefs, and how to think than in any other class. The irony lies in the fact that I had no idea I even needed to learn any of these things.”