CONNECTING WITH OUR STUDENTS: HOW TO PROMOTE A MORE CONSCIOUS TEACHING / LEARNING PROCESS

In this paper we present the foundations of a pedagogical innovation project in higher education, guided by the following three goals:

1. To rehearse forms of classroom instructional interaction based on a greater awareness of the elements involved in teaching / learning situations.
2. To empower students to be more aware of what and how they think, feel and do when they are in the classroom and how these elements influence the quality of their learning.
3. Identify the sources of our beliefs, feelings and actions, both in teachers and students, to be aware of their influence in teaching / learning situations, in order to assume in a more responsible way the direction of our personal and professional growth .

Our project has been inspired by the approaches of various theoretical currents in the field of higher education:

A) The so-called "Critical Thinking Approach" models, reviewed globally, for example, by Fahim, and Masoule (2012) in their "Critical Thinking in Higher Education: A Pedagogical Look"; or by Behar-Horenstein and Niu (2011) in their "Teaching Critical Thinking Skills in Higher Education: A Review of the literature".
B) The proposals of the so-called "Integral Approach", shown, for example, in "Integral Education: New Directions for Higher Learning" (Esbjorn, 2010), which defends the need to connect the cognitive, affective, moral and spiritual dimensions in the teaching-learning processes, based on a teaching methodology that promotes the (self) awareness of the participants.
C) The "Consciousness-Based Education" model of Maharishi University, a university in which the study of subjects is linked to the systematic cultivation of students' "internal potential". Students´s awareness expands itself gradually with each teaching/learning encounter. Each session becomes relevant for all participants insofar as the content is connected to their inner spaces.

In this paper we describe a sample of specific activities to be implemented both inside and outside classroom,as well as the reasons why we adopt them and the ways we suggest to integrate these activities within the context of several subjects taught at undergraduate and graduate level.