'Calming' lessons going ahead despite outrage

21:23, Sep 08 2014
CALM STATE: The mindfulness proposal would involve Riversdale students practising mindfulness and reflecting on their behaviour for 20-30 minutes a day.

Riversdale School in Northern Southland has decided to introduce a controversial calming technique for its pupils, despite fierce opposition from some parents.

The technique, called mindfulness, focuses on getting a person's emotions and thoughts in a natural, and calm state and in the present moment.

The school's board of trustees met last night and made the decision to implement mindfulness next year.

Numerous parents at the school are sure to be upset. Some Christian parents were vehemently opposed to its introduction, claiming mindfulness had Buddhist origins. They feared the devil would get inside the children's heads if the practice was introduced.

However, board chairman Dylan Ditchfield said most parents at the school supported mindfulness being introduced and the board believed the practice did not contain anything controversial.

The school would teach mindfulness to the pupils for numerous reasons, including to help with their concentration and focus, and to curb bullying.


"If they get anxious and in a situation where emotions take over this can help them make a better decision rather than being emotionally charged," Ditchfield said.

The issue has gained nationwide exposure, with many other schools understood to be watching to see what decision Riversdale made.

A parent who supported mindfulness being introduced, Chrissy McBride, said last month it was "worth a try" because mental health was an important issue.

Some of the parents opposed to it cited religious reasons and others believed the practice would take away from other learning at the school, she said. 

The Southland Times