The challenge: to mindfully (and technologically) capture a unique moment in time through the lens of their camera. The objective: to understand the concept of mindfulness through mindful photography.

As students aspire to uphold our school motto, ‘nil sine labore’ (nothing without work), a possible inhibitor to learning and endeavour is distraction. With distraction, the ability to focus is compromised and learning suffers. 

Mindfulness, the capacity to be connected to the present moment through all the senses and without judgement, may serve as an antidote to distraction.  Becoming more mindful helps to increase wellbeing and in turn improves the capacity to learn.

Mindfulness is a practice that can develop important life skills such as self-control and self-regulation, critical ingredients of success.

With that in mind we have begun to engage our boys in mindful photography. Adolescent boys respond well to kinaesthetic-based learning activities and enjoy the opportunity to express their freedom and creativity.

Mindful photography allows for a more active (but highly controlled) approach to mindfulness with the novelty of being outside the classroom.

Prior to the mindful photography task, students receive a theory lesson in what mindfulness is and how it is important to learning and wellbeing. Boys are able to realise that distraction is a threat to learning but this threat can be managed with mindfulness.  

They also become aware of the benefits of mindfulness: improved focus and concentration, decreased stress and anxiety, increased self- awareness, better impulse control and increased understanding and empathy of others.

Switching their phones to ‘airplane mode’ (to minimise distractions), students are now ready to learn to be mindful through photography. Challenged by the instinct to be gregarious, students who best respond to the task, are those who afford themselves special moments alone to be truly mindful.

To the bemused onlooker, the scene seems strange. With smart phone in hand students look up, down, across, through, behind and within, finding brand new vantage points otherwise lost in a typical school day.

The ordinary becomes extraordinary, the mundane becomes magical and the seemingly invisible enters the realm of consciousness. Driven by curiosity and the urge to discover, one could be forgiven for thinking that students are ‘seeing’ their school for the first time! 

For the Year 9 students at Brisbane Grammar School, Mondays have become synonymous with mindfulness. Becoming more mindful has enabled boys to view their school with a stronger sense of wonderment, awe and gratitude.

Not only have students developed the practice of mindfulness and experienced a range of positive emotions, they have learned how to find purpose and meaning through the responsible use of their smart phones.