Sharpham mindfulness teacher publishes book with Thich Nhat Hanh
Published: 12 January 2019
One of Sharpham’s mindfulness teachers is helping her fellow teachers to change the world, with her new book co-authored with Thich Nhat Hanh.
Professor Katherine Weare has worked with the revered Zen teacher on Happy Teachers Change The World - a handbook on cultivating mindfulness in education. The book’s foreword has been written by mindfulness stress reduction pioneer Jon Kabat-Zinn.
The book, published in the USA and the UK, has already sold out its first print run, garnering glowing reviews.
Katherine, who is internationally-known for her work on mindfulness and compassion for children, young people and those who care for them, teaches 8-week mindfulness for health and well-being courses and 1-day Introduction to Mindfulness courses at Sharpham House and is a dharma teacher at The Barn retreat centre here.
“We’re pleased and proud that Thich Nhat Hanh and Katherine’s book has been such a success already,” said Ben Ballard, who programmes the retreats and courses at The Sharpham Trust. “To have such names connected to Sharpham is a real boon and Katherine’s expertise in mindfulness in education adds to what we offer here.
“She’s also a valued teacher on our 8-week courses, so she’s putting her research into practice here at Sharpham – and that’s really helpful for participants who come here.”
A practical handbook on cultivating mindfulness in education
The book is described as the first authoritative manual of the teachings, practices and activities developed by Thich Nhat Hanh and Plum Village educators to help teachers cultivate mindfulness in their own lives and in the lives of their students in classrooms, schools and universities around the globe.
The book describes core practices that can be taught in the classroom, including getting in touch with breath, inviting and listening to the bell, mindful sitting and walking, mindful movements, deep relaxation, sharing and more.
Further chapters include guidance on cultivating mindfulness personally, then within students and classrooms, then across the school or university.
Katherine explained that the book blends teachings with really pragmatic guidance for life, not just for schooling. “Not many mindfulness books actually set it out like this, in a step-by-step way,” said Katherine.
“The book is not just about teaching meditation, it’s about getting on with people, reconciling conflict and being out there in the world. It’s an outward-looking version of mindfulness and that’s the difference.”
“The book stresses a whole-school approach – it’s not just about curriculum techniques but emphasises social action and ethics, and joy and pleasure too.”
It has a teacher-friendly design with wide margins, space for notes and a photocopier-friendly spine.
Inspiration inside for the readers
At the beginning of the book, Thich Nhat Hanh writes: “Our mission as teachers is not just to transmit knowledge, but to form human beings, to construct a worthy, beautiful human race, in order to take care of our precious planet.”
He asks: “If teachers are unhappy, if they do not have harmony and peace with each other, how will they help young people to suffer less and to succeed in their work?”
He adds: “Katherine uses her insight and experience as a teacher to present them in a way that makes them clear and easy for you to put into practice right away in your own life as well as in your classrooms, schools and universities.”
To produce the book, Katherine worked with drafts of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings on mindfulness in education, as well as her own findings, research collected from teachers across the globe, interview with teachers, surveys and first-hand examples of the benefits of working with mindful techniques in the classroom.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, whose work with mindfulness, meditation and stress-reduction led to the development of a prescribed 8-week course in mindfulness (taught at The Sharpham Trust), starts his foreword to the book with: “What you have in your hands is a uniquely important gift.”
Who are the writers?
Thich Nhat Hanh is a global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist who has been teaching the art of mindful living for more than 70 years and is one of the most revered Zen teachers in the world today. He lives in Plum Village in south west France.
Professor Katherine Weare is internationally known for her writing, speaking, research and development work on mindfulness and compassion for children, young people and those who care for them. She advises various mindfulness projects, including the UK Mindfulness in Schools Project, the All-Party Parliamentary Committee on developing mindfulness and well-being and she is on the board of Mind and Life Europe. She teaches at The Sharpham Trust, near Totnes, Devon.
Jon Kabat-Zinn pioneered a meditative approach used all over the world to treat pain and depression. He is considered the godfather of modern mindfulness after creating an 8-week mindfulness-based stress-reduction course for patients with chronic pain, harnessing the fundamentals of mindfulness meditation.
The book Happy Teachers Change The World is available on Amazon and in Sharpham House’s library bookshop