Mindfulness in and as education: A map of a developing academic discourse from 2002 to 2017

Oren Ergas, Linor L. Hadar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Since the turn of the millennium there has been a clear rise in the implementation and research of mindfulness across primary, secondary and postsecondary education. These implementations, however, hardly constitute a uniform phenomenon. They reflect a variety of framings, modalities and educational aims, as documented in hundreds of peer-reviewed papers. To date no overarching review has provided an empirically based mapping of this multifaceted and rapidly developing discourse. This paper offers a first-of-its-kind map of mindfulness in education stemming from the 447 peer-reviewed papers published between 2002 and 2017 that constitute this academic discourse, and based on grounded theory methodology. The research reveals an exponential rise in the amount of publications over years, with a complex discourse that evolves from seven different framings of the practice, applied to nine different educational domains and based on various types of implementation. It maps this complex discourse and describes its two main patterns to date as they emerged from the research: (1) Mindfulness in education, which comprises mostly of outsourced, secularised interventions aimed at improved mental–physical health, social–emotional learning and cognitive functions, (2) Mindfulness as education, which is a less common yet more transformative strand and manifests in contemplative pedagogy in higher education and in some rare whole-school implementations. Overall, in the studied period mindfulness has been moving from near-anonymity towards the mainstream; however, this discourse reflects a nascent phase given that it is only beginning to critique itself. Furthermore, its two patterns reflect a split discourse that is challenged by the practice's psychological–secular framing and its Buddhist framing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-797
Number of pages41
JournalReview of Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 British Educational Research Association.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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