Although there have recently been indications in educational policy and practice of a movement away from the dominance of economic capital and employability as primary goals of education and toward social capital with an emphasis on the affective domain and greater concerns with personal and social well-being, the prevailing instrumentalist and economistic function of learning still reigns supreme. Moreover, even though the neo-liberal hegemony and associated materialistic culture have been severely dented following the 2008 financial meltdown and current global economic recession, there are few signs of any marked trends away from selfish capitalism. This article suggests ways of foregrounding social capital through programs that incorporate “mindfulness”—non-judgmental present moment attention and awareness drew from Buddhist traditions—as a means of rejuvenating the affective domain of learning concerned with emotions and values. The analysis will also address the recent challenge to what has been (mistakenly in my view) called a “therapeutic turn” in education claimed by critics who suggest that learning is or should be about intellectual-cognitive matters, not feelings or emotional development. In the process, the links between mindfulness, the affective domain, and social engagement will be explored as ways of developing the social values that support community well-being and trust.
“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of . . . We know the truth not only by the reason but by the heart” “— Blaise Pascal