Who developed the program?
The MAT™ Toolbox has been created by Fiona Gauntlett in collaboration with a senior psychologist and incorporates ongoing feedback from teachers and students.
Fiona Gauntlett is an accredited mindfulness teacher, the founder of Mindful Attention Training, and creator of the MAT™ programs which are now being implemented in a range of ways with thousands of Australian students. She has facilitated life skills courses for children and adolescents in private, community and school settings and has trained hundreds of teachers, school psychologists and youth workers in the theory and practice of the MAT™ programs.
"Fiona's knowledge and expertise in mindfulness-based practice and training methods is world class. She is consistently abreast of the latest scientific research and best practice application of mindfulness in educational contexts, as well as the most recent neuroscience . . . the MAT™ Toolbox is an outstanding world first example of the quality, depth and innovation she has brought to this emerging field."
Who delivers the program and what training is required?
The MAT™ Toolbox has been designed to be delivered by teachers in the classroom. It is highly recommended that the school engage a MAT™ educator to provide initial training through one or more professional development session/s. These sessions typically cover related research, MAT™ pedagogy and curriculum as well as direct experience in mindful attention and its implementation. The training can be customised to suit the particular needs and objectives of each school and where possible can be delivered on site. The aim is to provide focussed and time-efficient training and utilise existing teachers skill-sets.
How much time does the program take up?
A key feature of the MAT™ Toolbox is flexibility so that it can fit within the composite and intense demands of school environments. The aim is not to take time away from important academic subjects but to improve attention and therefore make learning more effective. The MAT™ Toolbox is also aligned with the Personal and Social capability of the Australian Curriculum.
Length of Lessons:
Each lesson is designed to be delivered in a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes. The lessons can however easily be expanded into longer sessions through class discussion if required.
Repetition of Lessons:
Each lesson contains 2 parts: brief Teaching Notes and an Inner Attention Training. After delivery of the lesson, it is recommended that the Inner Attention Trainings be regularly repeated. This can be through encouraging students to listen to the audio recordings (at home or while travelling) or through integrating the Inner Attention Trainings into different school periods through the week. Each recording is only a couple of minutes and can be streamed from a computer, tablet or smart phone.
Sequence of Lessons:
For each year, there are only 15 lessons divided into 5 lessons per term. The rationale behind this was to allow space for three other processes:
1. Additional material and programmes which the school wants to offer students.
While all MAT™ programs can be delivered as stand-alone courses, it is recognised that many schools are adopting a multi-dimensional approach to learning and well-being and a single program that is too time demanding does not fit well within this framework.
2. Teacher-led revision.
Whilst the MAT™ Toolbox material is carefully sequenced in terms of learning and developmental appropriateness, it was also considered important to give teachers the opportunity to be able to deliver the material flexibly in response to the learning priorities of the individual students and class.
3. Student-led practice
A key feature of adolescence is peer-influence and it is highly recommended that students are gradually encouraged to take responsibility for leading MAT™ Toolbox sessions in the class and for initiating broadening activities (such as related learning topics and creative projects). In this way, the role of peer influence becomes one of the ‘active ingredients’ in the learning process.
Is the program secular?
Yes. The capacity to be aware is a universal human capacity which can be developed through the neutral skill of paying attention. The MAT™ Toolbox has no religious affiliation.
What kind of evaluation does the program have?
The MAT™ Toolbox is grounded in the latest international research for youth and references the work of leading neuroscientists, psychologists and practitioners. Specific evaluation on the program is not yet available but is a priority and if you would like for your school to be involved in a research project, please let us know.