by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Elizabeth Harrington‘s latest exploration of federal budget bloat yields another interesting story for Washington Free Beacon readers.
The Department of Education is spending upwards of $2.5 million to bring a mindfulness intervention to kindergarteners in Chicago, where kids can go to “calm spots” in the corner to watch nature videos.
The National Institutes of Health has spent over $100 million studying the New Age meditation technique, but it is not the only federal agency pouring federal funding into mindfulness. The Education Department has introduced a “Calm Classroom” program into 3,000 schools through its Investing in Innovation fund, costing taxpayers $2,513,093.
“Mindfulness is a secular, psychological mode involving non-judgmental focus on present-moment sensations, and has been shown to have a number of benefits to well-being,” the grant abstract for the project states. “Our project offers an innovative approach not only because mindfulness is unique relative to traditional social-emotional learning (SEL) programs, but also because of added elements designed to replenish children’s focus directly back into the content of school, including always-available ways to take very brief ‘brain breaks.’”
The program involves classrooms doing mindfulness activities three times a day. The exercises include “guided breathing with eyes closed, stretching, yoga-inspired poses, ‘body scan’ visualizations, focus on external objects, and ‘social mindfulness’ exercises involving peer interaction.”
The grant was awarded to the Erikson Institute, a graduate school that specializes in early childhood development.
Erikson invented the “Calm Spot,” or a corner for kids to put on noise canceling headphones and watch “soft fascination” videos of nature scenes on tablets.