Transforming Me to We: Growing Community In the Learning Garden


  • Richard Brady


Keywords: holistic learning environments, cooperative learning , community, mindfulness, social change, student-centered learning


In this paper the author describes how he developed holistic learning environments by employing a variety of community-building approaches. These include: employing mindfulness practices; self-paced, collaborative learning; small-group, cooperative learning; and resolving full-group problems which students themselves identified and participated in solving. These approaches helped promote social change, a shift from me-centered to we-centered classrooms, and nourished an atmosphere of caring. While community building mitigated some problems, it created others. In responding to them, the author utilized approaches described here that focused on deepening community consciousness. The paper concludes with a story of the author’s visit to a school which for him embodied qualities of a true community.

Author Biography

Richard Brady

Richard Brady, MS, is a practicing meditator, a certified Mindfulness teacher, a retreat leader, and coordinator of the Wake Up Schools Level II Program in North America. In 2001 he was recognized by Thich Nhat Hanh as a teacher in his tradition with a special focus on cultivating mindfulness in young people.  In the same year he founded the Mindfulness in Education Network (MiEN).  Since then, he has regularly presented workshops for educators and consulted with schools.

Richard did his undergraduate work in mathematics at MIT and received an MS in physics from the University of Maryland.  He has been a mathematics teacher in Washington, DC: at Woodrow Wilson High School from 1970 to 1973 and at Sidwell Friends School from 1973 to 2007.

Richard founded the Washington Mindfulness Community in 1989.  He has led mindfulness workshops under the auspices of the Friends Council on Education and Pendle Hill Quaker Center and at the National Association of Independent Schools and the Association of Independent Maryland Schools annual conferences.  Richard has taught mindfulness at Sidwell Friends School and has taught mindfulness to teachers and students at other educational institutions including:  University of Massachusetts, Amherst; The Putney School; and Compass School and has led retreats for educators in the US, Italy, and Germany.  He is an editor of Tuning In: Mindfulness in Teaching and Learning (2009) and author of Walking the Teacher’s Path with Mindfulness: Stories for Reflection and Action (in press, Routledge, 2021).






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