by Global Good News staff writer
28 Jan 2012
After a journey of about 15 years in education, Javier Guzman, principal of New Village Charter School for Girls in Los Angeles, wanted to share some of what he has learned along the way with the audience at the David Lynch Foundation’s third annual Change Begins Within gala held in LA last December.
Mr Guzman voices that schools are places of great stress and that education is, in his words, ‘wrongfully and tragically based on the notion that the beauty and complexity of an individual can be measured by an exam.’
Mr Guzman expects more from his students than what he considers to be ‘a poison of low expectations that clearly has been institutionalized and reinforced in our educational system’. He wants to raise the bar for them and give them the means to reach that higher level.
There is a need to ‘build schools that consider the whole person, that understand that our students have passions and interests, and that give them the tools to transcend their environments,’ the principal says.
The Quiet Time with Transcendental Meditation Programme
After briefly referring to the very difficult situations of his students—pregnancy, drug addiction, being victims of violence and abuse, poverty— Mr Guzman talks about the programme which has been implemented in his school, Quiet Time with Transcendental Meditation.
The principal’s words are poignant as he talks about the programme. ‘This work of teaching TM to our students isn’t only about releasing stress. For my students and thousands like them, it’s about combating the problem of poverty,’ he says and then refers to the ill effect of the low bar set for these young people.
Mr Guzman continues. ‘This work is about breaking destructive cycles of behaviour. It’s about being given the tools to truly reach one’s full potential. And, as one of my students stated, it’s about opening a door to someone I never knew I could be.’
Students and faculty speak
At this point, the educator stops his speech and yields to a video of his school.
A faculty member shares what she has observed there, commenting that what the girls have already experienced by age 15, most people don’t fit into a lifetime. ‘They had tremendous levels of stress,’ she says, ‘and very difficult situations. And then they do Quiet Time—it just smoothes that out.’ She goes on, ‘It takes this bumpy, jarring, anxiety-ridden moment and turns into something that is so calm and peaceful and relaxed and they walk out of the room feeling better, feeling normal. It’s a palpable change. You can actually feel the difference in the room.’
Positive feelings toward the Quiet Time with Transcendental Meditation Programme also flow freely from the students.
‘I think it’s great,’ one girl begins. ‘It’s a great way to be OK with yourself. It’s a great way of releasing all the stress out.’ She then elaborates, ‘It just helps me relax. When I’m meditating, it’s only me. It’s not my friends, it’s not my mom, it’s not my little brothers. It’s just me.’
Another student, bright and cheerful, relates that she immediately noticed a difference upon learning the Transcendental Meditation Technique. ‘After learning TM,’ she says, ‘I instantly felt whole and happier and I think that brought out the good in me.’ She also shares, with a big smile and a laugh, that other people wonder, ‘What is she doing? Why is she so happy?’
A girl, who shared that she had become pregnant when 13, voices a great increase in confidence upon learning the Transcendental Meditation Technique. ‘I feel that for once I’m not a dumb person, that I can actually do my work.’ And a student, whose mother had been deported a couple of years earlier, says, ‘TM is such a great opportunity. . . . I feel more healthy in my emotions and in my mind.’
With deep emotion, another young girl speaks of her situation and what she has gained from the Quiet Time with Transcendental Meditation Programme. ‘I have a lot of problems in my life. And TM came into my life and gave me this open door to something that I never knew could be there.’
A gentleman faculty member also sees great benefits for the students, both as individuals and collectively. ‘The students have just become extremely united; self-esteem has gone up tremendously and that’s something these students really need,’ he comments.
A proud principal
The video ends and Javier Guzman steps to the podium again. The Quiet Time with Transcendental Meditation Programme is clearly changing the lives of his students in ways that he wants. As the words of the girls and faculty indicated, the principal’s desires—to raise the bar for his girls, to give his students the tools to transcend their environments, to give them a way to not only release stress but reach their full potential, to open a door to what they could not have previously imagined to be possible—are being fulfilled.
Mr Guzman concludes his presentation by very proudly presenting to the gala audience four of his ‘wonderfully gifted, talented, and resilient young women.’ As they came on stage, the principal smiled with great pride and love and the audience’s applause was accented with cheers.
© Copyright 2012 Global Good News®