Students in Meditation

Each day I post a new MCAT CARS Passage. This is for anyone who wants to practice for the CARS Section.

Every article is selected to meet the AAMC MCAT criteria for CARS.

Subscribe by email to receive a new practice passage each morning.

March 22, 2017 – MCAT CARS Passage

Question: What is your summary of the author’s main ideas. Post your own answer in the comments before reading those made by others.

A five-minute walk from the rickety, raised track that carries the 5 train through the Bronx, the English teacher Argos Gonzalez balanced a rounded metal bowl on an outstretched palm. His class—a mix of black and Hispanic students in their late teens, most of whom live in one of the poorest districts in New York City—by now were used to the sight of this unusual object: a Tibetan meditation bell.

“Today we’re going to talk about mindfulness of emotion,” Gonzalez said with a hint of a Venezuelan accent. “You guys remember what mindfulness is?” Met with quiet stares, Gonzalez gestured to one of the posters pasted at the back of the classroom, where the students a few weeks earlier had brainstormed terms describing the meaning of “mindfulness.” There were some tentative mumblings: “being focused,” “being aware of our surroundings.”

Gonzalez nodded. “Right. But it’s also being aware of our feelings, our emotions, and how they impact us.”

Arturo A. Schomburg Satellite Academy is what is known in New York City as a transfer school, a small high school designed to re-engage students who have dropped out or fallen behind. This academy occupies two floors of a hulking, grey building that’s also home to two other public schools. For the most part, Gonzalez told me, the kids who come here genuinely want to graduate, but attendance is their biggest barrier to success. On the day I visited, one of Gonzalez’s students had just been released from jail; one recently had an abortion; one had watched a friend bleed to death from a gunshot wound the previous year. Between finding money to put food on the table and dealing with unstable family members, these students’ minds are often crowded with concerns more pressing than schoolwork.

Still holding the bowl, Gonzalez continued with the day’s lesson. “I’m going to say a couple of words to you. You’re not literally going to feel that emotion, but the word is going to trigger something, it’s going to make you think of something or feel something. Try to explore it.”

The slightly built, 30-something Gonzalez, who wears a wide smile and a scruffy beard, first learned about mindfulness from his wife, a yoga teacher in schools around the city. His students referred to him by his first name, and Gonzalez addressed them just as informally—greeting them in the morning with a high five and a “Sup,” or “How you doing, bro?” or even “Hey, mamma.” He told me he strives to make school relevant—explaining what a “motif” is by comparing it to the hook of a rap song, for example—and believes in the value of hands-on teaching, emailing students individually to check in when they don’t show up.

“First, sit up straight, put your feet flat on the ground. Let your eyes close.” Gonzalez demonstrated as he instructed. Most of the 15 or so students followed suit—though a few scribbled surreptitiously to finish overdue assignments. Gonzalez tapped the bowl and a rich, metallic sound rang out. The class fell quiet as the note reverberated.

“Take a deep breath into your belly. As you breathe in and breathe out, notice that your breath is going to be stronger in a certain part of your body. Maybe it’s your belly, your chest, or your nose. We’ll begin with trying to count to 10 breaths.”

There was silence but for the hiss of the 5 train pulling into the station, the clunk of garbage cans, the faint siren of a police car.

“If you get lost in thought, it’s okay. Just come back and count again. Whether you get up to 10 or not doesn’t really matter. It’s just a way to focus [your] mind.”

Adapted from theatlantic.

Review

Leave a comment below with what you understood to be the author’s main ideas. Ask about this daily passage in office hours/workshops for help.

Subscribe to my Daily CARS mailing list by entering your email.

The full list of daily articles is available here.

This was an article on Education.

Have a great day.
Jack Westin
MCAT CARS Instructor.
Contact Information

32 Comments


  1. Promoting mindfulness is key in ensuring the success of at-risk-youth.

    Reply

  2. Mindfulness= impact on students emotional awareness

    Reply

  3. At-risk youth struggle with all sorts of issues that keep them from prioritizing school. Meditation and mindfulness program introduced to help re-engage students.

    Reply

  4. A New York City high school exists to help students who have fallen behind in traditional high schools to graduate. One teacher at this school uses mindfulness and meditation techniques to ease the students’ stresses from outside life and create a more welcoming environment.

    Reply

  5. M= awareness of emotions & their impact

    Reply

  6. A. Gonzalz teaches meditation to underprivileged/fallen-behind students as a means to help & engage them.

    Reply

  7. The story of the teacher Gonzalz who teach unprivileged students the power of meditation and mindfulness in order to help and engage them.

    Reply

  8. teach mindfulness = engage disadvantaged students

    Reply

  9. Gonzalez is a hands on and relatable teacher who uses meditation to help focus the minds of his troubled students.

    Reply

  10. MIP: Mindfulness = surround awareness ; Mindfulness = emotional impact

    Reply

  11. MIP: G >> med to foc troubled minds of children
    tone: neut

    Reply

  12. MIP: Gonzalez practices mindfulness + informal teaching
    Tone: Neutral

    Reply

  13. G = teaches mindfulness = being aware of emotion + impact to underprivileged students

    Reply

  14. To illustrate how a teacher is trying to train the kids in transfer school about being mindful

    Reply

  15. G. engages students in meditation to help disadvantaged kids

    Reply

  16. MI: Mindfulness for at risk student for mental awarness

    Reply

  17. MIP: teach mindfulness = studs focus/ explore emotion (Gonzalez)

    Reply

  18. MI: Mindfulness is imp for understanding emo/feelings/etc. Explains student’s and teacher’s backgrounds.

    Reply

  19. Disadvantaged students are taught by Gonzales about mindfulness -> help focus/aware of their own emotions and what impact them

    Reply

  20. district w/ disadvantaged students / gonz teaches meditation /= outlet for students

    Reply

  21. make disadvantaged students mindful of their emotions and their impact on their lives

    Reply

  22. New school different study methods uses meditation to focus students who went off track

    Reply

  23. The author defined mindfulness as being aware of various things. Gonzalez assisted students who needed help to graduate high school, and he used mindfulness exercises with a Tibetan meditation bell in order to focus the minds of his students.

    Reply

  24. MIP: meditation used in classes; helps disadvantaged students

    Reply

  25. Gonzalez= uses meditation and teaches mindfulness = helps disadvantaged students

    Reply

  26. MI: Mindfulness = awareness of emotions and their impact on us
    MI2: attendance = biggest barrier (RTA: Gonzalez)

    Reply

  27. MIP: Gonzales teaches meditation to disadvantaged students; tone = neutral

    Reply

  28. This passage discussses the practice of mindfulness and meditation in a school academy for students who have gone through hardships, yet still want to graduate.

    Reply

Leave a Reply