AMiE (Arts and Midfulness in Education)
In rapidly evolving, hyper-connected and performance-oriented societies, the mental health of citizens increasingly requires priority attention and care. Indeed, research shows that about 20% of European adults suffer from mental health problems, a percentage that rises to about 50% if depression and anxiety are also taken into account. Research confirms that in the field of mental health care, in addition to curative measures aimed at adults, there is an increasing need for preventive measures aimed at children (Van der Gucht et al., 2016).
The Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership 'AMiE' - an acronym that stands for Arts & Mindfulness in Education - helps to meet this need by providing European teachers with inspirational and supportive tools regarding the introduction of mindfulness in pre-primary and primary education (age group 3 to 12). AMiE is unique in that it uses the power of art and creative processes as a starting point for the introduction of mindfulness in a school context.
The AMiE consortium consists of three European higher education institutions (AP University of Applied Sciences and Arts Antwerp, Belgium; Dundalk Institute of Technology, Ireland; Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Norway), a private music school in Porto that offers training courses at the level of Pre-School, First Cycle, Basic Course of Music, Secondary Course of Instrument and Music Training (Curso de Música Silva Monteiro, Portugal) and a company specialised in STEAM, playful learning and mindfulness in an educational context (Speel je wijs, the Netherlands).
In a previous Strategic Partnership (https://steameducation.eu) this same AMiE consortium has already built up extensive expertise and experience in STEAM education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics): it became clear that artistic processes can be of great use in getting pupils from pre-primary and primary schools playfully acquainted with new learning content. From a similar transdisciplinary approach, arts can also serve to introduce mindfulness into the daily practice of pre-primary and primary schools (Ch. André, 2014).
Eight Belgian, Irish and Norwegian students (all future teachers and/or students with an artistic study background) from each of the three higher education institutions involved in AMiE will actively contribute to the various intellectual outputs and the (national and international) multiplier events of this Strategic Partnership in which student entrepreneurship is central.
The intellectual outputs that are the result of this AMiE Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership (various & innovative forms of both theoretic and practice-oriented didactic material) are aimed at inspiring and supporting both teachers of teacher training colleges and teachers of pre-primary and primary schools to work with arts & mindfulness in their educational practice. Uniquely, all these intellectual outputs are a result of co-creative processes with the pupils and students involved in AMiE. This co-creation by international and interdisciplinary student teams - in which the teachers involved take on the role of coach - takes place both on a project basis during the various intensive programmes and through forms of Collaborative Online International Learning. With a view to the co-creation of these intellectual outputs and their wider dissemination, the AMiE consortium organises both international training activities aimed at teachers and international learning activities aimed at students.
The involvement of pre-primary and primary schools from each of the five European countries directly involved is also interesting. A number of these schools each focus on specific target groups with whom we work on arts & mindfulness (children from culturally diverse backgrounds; children of refugees; children with a mental disability; children from socioeconomic vulnerable families). In this way AMiE contributes to the objectives of the European Commission regarding equity, diversity and inclusion.
Much attention is paid to dissemination activities that encourage a much wider group of both international higher education partners and European pre-primary and primary schools to introduce mindfulness through the arts into their educational practice. A sustainable embedding of arts & mindfulness in the European educational context is therefore the intended impact of AMiE in the longer term. The embedding of this form of educational innovation in the curricula of all partners in the AMiE consortium and a consistent ambassadorial role regarding arts & mindfulness at the European level are the first steps in this direction.
This Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership is financially supported by DIKU - Norwegian Agency for International Cooperation and Quality Enhancement in Higher Education. Western Norway University of Applied Sciences is responsible for project coordination.