How Cultural Constructs of the Mind Influence the Experience of Mindfulness and Learning

  • Monchaya Jetabut

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Education (EdD)


This thesis is an exploration in mindfulness and learning through the direct experiences of high school adolescents in Amsterdam and Bangkok. The research study uses a phenomenological paradigm to examine how cultural constructs of the mind influence student experience. This year-long qualitative study results in a deep dive analysis of four exemplar students. The extent to which cultural constructs of the mind influence the experience of mindfulness and learning is reflected in the student voice in both social contexts.

The literature review provides an account of the evolution and expansion of the phenomenon of mindfulness from its Buddhist roots to Western society, along with its present-day application within the educational context. The relationship between attention and mindfulness and the student experience of learning is also explored. The implications of policy borrowing and cross-cultural transference are noted, given the increased prevalence of mindfulness in schools programs internationally.

The analysis of themes and use of portraiture to illustrate the experiences of the exemplar students sheds light on how their understanding of the mind influences their experience of both mindfulness and learning. The nuances in language, coupled with the cultural constructs of the mind have a direct impact on how students engage with the phenomena. Furthermore, the overarching differences around student understanding of mindfulness, whether taught through a secular lens or established in a particular cultural ethos, influence whether it is viewed as a well-being strategy or a way of life.

The thesis concludes that one’s understanding of mindfulness, along with the extent of one’s relationship to its practice, can have an effect on the experience of learning.
Date of Award18 Nov 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorHugh Lauder (Supervisor), Ceri Brown (Supervisor) & Jim Mckinley (Supervisor)


  • mindfulness in schools
  • phenomenology
  • comparative education
  • cross-cultural policy borrowing

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