by Kara Platoni
The New York Times picked an Oakland school, Piedmont Avenue Elementary, as the focus of its article on how some schools are teaching students "mindfulness training." The series of techniques, derived from Buddhist meditation, are designed to help young students stay calm and focused in class, and overcome stress as well as aggression on the playground. The article examines whether or not these exercises lead to any practical benefits, (one teacher refers to Piedmont Avenue Elementary's five-week pilot program as "Cloud Nine-groovy-hippie-liberals bringing 'enlightenment' to inner city schools,") and whether kids so young and over-stimulated by the ordinary drama of the school day can stick out a 15-minute meditation session. Then again, when one student tells the reporter that, to him, mindfulness means "not hitting someone in the mouth," you kind of have to root for the Cloud Nine hippies.