Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (College of Philosophy and Theology)

Schools and Centres

Philosophy and Theology

First Supervisor

Professor Jānis (John) Tālivaldis Ozoliņš

Second Supervisor

Associate Professor Angus Brook


This study will explore the literature on silence and contemplation in order to develop an approach for a contemplative classroom. It will examine Angelo Caranfa’s ideas on silence in education and a contemplative curriculum. The research will highlight some of the influences on his work, critiquing them and pointing out what can be further developed by outlining what a contemplative classroom might look like.

Contemplative practices will be defined broadly as silence, attentiveness, reflection, humility, attentive listening, and mindfulness. I will provide a theoretical and practical account of these to inform educators towards a holistic approach to teaching and learning and a flourishing life. This thesis will draw on both the philosophical and Christian tradition in examining silence and contemplation.

Caranfa’s work is based on the assertion that silence is the very foundation of learning. Silence allows our discourse to facilitate deeper learning and self-knowledge. Caranfa draws on the ideas of Socrates, Augustine, Max Picard, and Simone Weil. They advocate for the use of silence (connected to listening and thinking) as the basis of all learning and transformation. The connection of arts and aesthetic experiences to silence is also a central theme in his work. I will extend Caranfa’s model of contemplation in providing a conceptual, ethical, and experiential approach to a contemplative pedagogy. The conceptual dimensions will examine how we might teach philosophy in developing epistemic humility for a contemplative mindset. The ethical component explores the importance of attentive listening for the classroom. The experiential offers various contemplative practices drawn from secular and religious traditions.

The thesis will highlight some contemporary challenges to contemplative pedagogy. These include the neoliberal agenda, technology, and ‘inattentiveness’ within modern life. To counter these, I will argue also for the importance of the arts and humanities in helping students find meaning and habituate them towards an encounter with the greater mystery.

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Philosophy Commons