The Mindful Classroom: Constructive Conversations on Race, Identity, and Justice helps teachers and discussion facilitators practice and teach mindfulness and movement techniques that can deeply enhance conversations about race, identity, and social justice, furthering social justice efforts at their most basic stage—person to person—from the face-to-face or online classroom to the community at large. Mindfulness and movement practices can help us prepare for and engage in difficult conversations, and the more conscious we become of our emotional, mental, and physical landscape, the more we are able to engage proactively rather than reactively, consciously rather than automatically. We become able to act (or not act), rather than react in situations with others. The topics of race and social justice are timely, and they are triggers. Productive engagement with these topics demands we remain mindful of how we may be triggered and how we may be triggering others; it demands we pay attention to ourselves at a fundamental level, and it demands that we grant such attention to others.
Tru Leverette is associate professor of English and Director of Africana Studies at the University of North Florida.
Preface: Why Be Mindful?
Introduction: Where have we been? Where are we now? Tracing civil (and uncivil) discourse
Chapter 1: What we talk about when we talk about race: encountering individual identity, personal agency, and collective struggle
Mindfulness & Movement Practice 1
Chapter 2: Who and How Will We Be? Creating Constructive Conversations and Communities
Mindfulness & Movement Practice 2
Chapter 3: From Page to Presence: Using Literary Studies to Engage the World
Mindfulness & Movement Practice 3
Chapter 4: Engaging Community
Mindfulness & Movement Practice 4
Chapter 5: The Mindful Classroom: Seeing and Freeing the Whole Student
Chapter 6: Student Voices: Reflections from Mindfully Engaged Students
Conclusion: Where are we going? Communities to Come
Afterword: From Conversation to Commitment by Andrew Woods
About the Author
Incorporating mindfulness and yoga as pedagogical tools in academia might seem odd at first, but the value of these proposed strategies soon becomes apparent. Leverette’s timely conversations provide “aha!” moments that encourage educators to address race, identity, and social justice classroom issues from an exciting—and promising—perspective. Kudos!
The Mindful Classroom by Tru Leverette deftly weaves theory, pedagogical practice, and narrative to illuminate and honor the complexity of educating students as whole human beings who possess and require development of their self-reflection, compassion, and critical thinking in service of engaging productively in mindful conversations about race and social justice. Leverette shares grounded skill-building practices from her own teaching, offers student perspectives on their experiences as learners, and integrates scholarship from diverse fields of study. College and university educators who engage in mindfulness practices, deliberative pedagogy, community-engaged learning, and/or discourse on race and social justice will be affirmed, and will also benefit from the wisdom and experience shared in this text.
Democracy is in trouble. But education is an opportunity for all of us as it helps to create space for us to listen and learn from and with others. Importantly, as this book highlights, there is an inward orientation that is critical to being able to do the common work of democratic life. We are more than our ideological and partisan affiliations, but it’s easy to lose sight of this in this moment. We need practices that exercise our individual and collective civic muscle. This book highlights some of those possibilities.
As Leverette argues, whole conversations involving whole people remind us that we are people comprised of many dimensions. Stretching ourselves—figuratively and literally—helps us develop mindful that orients our actions.