Volume 3, Spring 2021
Asia Ferrin, Perry Zurn
Facilitating Curiosity and Mindfulness in the Classroom
A Sociopolitical Approach
As an outgrowth of experiential and critical pedagogies, and in response to growing rates of student anxiety and depression, educators in recent years have made increasing efforts to facilitate curiosity and mindfulness in the classroom. In Section I, we describe the rationale and function of these initiatives, focusing on the Right Question Institute and mindfulness curricula. Although we admire much about these programs, here we explore ways to complicate and deepen them through a more socially grounded and ethically informed theoretical framework. In Section II, we provide that framework by sketching a sociopolitical account of curiosity and of mindfulness. We propose a curiosity mindful of social location and a mindfulness curious about political structures and historical contexts. In Section III, we then offer concrete suggestions for modifying the curricula of the Right Question Institute and various mindfulness programs. We show how a more nuanced understanding of curiosity and mindfulness strengthens these program offerings. Ultimately, facilitating mindful curiosity and curious mindfulness, we argue, helps educators a) provide more robust learning environments, b) address growing mental health challenges, and c) support global citizenship in the classroom and beyond.