Contemplative Pedagogies @ Guilford College

Aleks Babić (they/them) – Director of the Quaker Leadership Scholars Program / Public Health Lecturer

C. Wess Daniels (he/him) – Director of the Friends Center and Quaker Studies

What is Contemplative Pedagogy?

“The integration of meditative practices [before, during, and after active] teaching and learning” (Vanderbilt, 2019)

“The integration of meditative practices into higher education as a complement to critical reasoning with the goal of rebalancing liberal education to include head and heart, body and mind” (Vanderbilt University Teaching and Learning Center).

What is Contemplative Pedagogy?

Why Contemplative Pedagogy?

  • Research:
    • Improves cognitive and academic performance
      • Students: Aids in focusing attention, improving concentration, and increasing self knowledge
      • Teachers: fosters connection with students, increases creative engagement with teaching & research
    • Increases empathy, compassion, interpersonal skills, creativity, & self-awareness
    • Student reframing of their educational goals to be more holistic
  • Opportunity to be fully present to
    • student motivation/resistance
    • power imbalances in the classroom
    • Emotional and spiritual impact of the curriculum
  • What contemplative practices do you already engage in? (Work, or home?)

4 Categories of Contemplative Practice

Faculty Development Contemplative Pedagogies Workshop


Aleks Babić and Wess Daniels

1. Silence/mindfulness/meditative/quiet practices

Activities and practices that focus on centering the self toward an open and present pedagogy.

  • 5+ minutes of meditation
  • AirPlane Mode/Do Not Disturb/sleep away from phone
  • Breathing apps / meditation apps (our recommendations: Oak, Calm, Headspace)
  • Examene – Prayer / reflection that prompts review of the day (Pray as you go, Prayer of Examen Video)

2. Journaling/reflective/integrative writing

A reflective practice that supports processing and integrating learning.

  • “Word of the day” focus – find a service you can subscribe to that gives you a word to reflect on over the course of the day
  • Daily readers (“poem of the day”/short contemplative podcast; journal prompt)
  • Scheduled journaling practice/Morning Pages (The Artist’s Way)/freewrite
  • “What’s on your mind?” as a daily prompt/mental offload

3. Small group reflective practices/storytelling

Structured, interactive, group-based process designed for team-based learning and development.

  • Asking open-ended question (connecting field of study to self)
  • Circle of trust / Clearness committees – Parker Palmer
  • “Moth Story Hour” (Sharing an individual story based on a theme/prompt)
  • Lectio Divina – contemplative, repeated reading and reflection on a text

4. Multimedia/multimodal

Physically engaged/embodied exploration, learning, and development.

  • Sketching/adult coloring
  • Body practices such as Tai Chi and Yoga (FC offers weekly yoga during fall/spring)
  • Playbill Review (reflective drawing) – Link to an example
  • Walking (solo: phone on airplane mode; set 10 min alarm; “notice what you notice, pay attention what you pay attention to”)
  • Camping (not for everyone; what learning can happen outside?)
  • Bullet Journal (“Track the past, organize the present, and prepare for the future.” planning & documentation combined; visualization)
  • Knitting/crochet/sewing/crafts (consider process vs. product; connect to sourcing materials, ethicals of clothing production, animal breeding & care, color theory, etc.)

Further Resources: