In this activity, students debate whether mindfulness can effectively heal the brain after a traumatic experience to minimize negative mental health symptoms.
During Class 1, 3-5 students (depending on class size) are chosen as judges for the debate while the rest of the class is divided into two teams. The instructor then plays Video Clips 1, 2, and 3 to introduce students to the idea of stress, biological trauma, and what a traumatized person experiences. The instructor then poses the question: “can mindfulness therapy actually reverse physiological effects of trauma in the brain?” Students go home and research the topic to understand brain plasticity and trauma, and find evidence for their team’s viewpoint (Team 1 for, Team 2, against).
During Class 2, students get into their assigned team, and build their case with the evidence they have found. Each team chooses people to debate (2-3 rounds of debate/rebuttal, depending on class size and length, lasting 5 minutes each).
Judges make decision on who won the debate, and instructor debriefs the class to address any misconceptions about the brain and to answer student questions. Instructor then shows Video Clip 4 and 5, and explains that the answer is probably a mix of both sides: mindfulness therapy may not be able to completely erase the physiological affects of trauma on the brain, but it can help to reduce to psychological effects experienced, allowing trauma survivors to be more grounded in the present.
Students exercise critical thinking skills (researching for evidence), and learn to evaluate facts (debate) and create (rebuttle) counter-arguments. Ultimately, students should gain a deeper understanding of neuroplasticity through the subject lens of trauma.
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