by Global Good News staff writer
2 May 2012
Tall Poppies, a publication for the New Zealand Association for Gifted Children, tells of a quiet revolution taking place in schools around the globe. The magazine’s article, ‘Stress-free learning’, reports on schools that are taking advantage of a simple, reliable, and proven technology being used ‘in the world of education for “upgrading the hardware” within the cranium of each and every student.’
Instead of focusing on improving the quality of the information fed to students, these schools are giving attention to development of the students themselves, improving the intelligence that is taking in the information.
These schools are employing the TM Quiet Time programme, which allows students and school staff a short period at the beginning and end of each school day to practise the Transcendental Meditation (TM) Technique.
The nature and benefits of the Transcendental Meditation Programme
This simple, natural, practice was brought to the modern world in the 1950’s by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi although its origins are ancient. In this scientific age, up-to-date methods of investigation have been used extensively to verify the effects of the Transcendental Meditation Technique both during and as a result of the practice.
The Tall Poppies writer—who started the article by rhetorically asking, ‘Is it possible to make all kids smarter and happier than they now are?’—points to this scientific research. He notes that there are hundreds of peer-reviewed studies, which have been performed worldwide, demonstrating the wide range of benefits of the Transcendental Meditation programme including ‘increased creativity, focus, and memory; improved academic achievement; decreased stress, anxiety, and depression; and greater happiness, coping ability, and tolerance.’
Of particular interest in the field of education is the development of ‘”inner wakefulness” and enriched brain functioning’, which occur during the practice due to the refinement of mental activity when one is meditating. The EEG research demonstrates the enlivenment of whole-brain functioning during the practice of the Transcendental Meditation Technique and shows ‘that different parts of the brain begin to work in a more synchronous and orderly fashion.’ This improved integration of the brain has been correlated with increases in emotional stability and moral reasoning and a decrease in anxiety.
TM Quiet Time allows schools to flourish
The investment made by schools is small—a Quiet Time period of 15 minutes at the start and conclusion of each school day. ‘Not only do the individual teachers and students flourish, but the entire school atmosphere becomes harmonious, happy, safe and conducive to learning,’ Tall Poppies reports.
When a South Auckland, New Zealand school began ‘the TM Quiet Time programme a couple of years ago, the principal acknowledged that at that time the school was not a safe learning environment and was unable to provide appropriate strategies to manage the high levels of stress in the students’ lives.’ Ninety-five per cent of the students were below the national standards for reading.
But now, 49% are at or above these standards and the school enjoys a calm and peaceful atmosphere with the students more focused. One teacher remarked on the bright faces of her students soon after the TM Quiet Time programme began saying, ‘Who are these kids…where has my class gone!’
Kataraina Nock, a principal in a primary school in Papakura, New Zealand, sees her school, which had ‘a long history of failure,’ as ‘a much better place’ two and a half years after implementing TM Quiet Time. Teachers see that their students are more settled, are concentrating better, and are doing their work more easily. ‘The children themselves say they find it easier to study and they feel calmer, happier and less pressured.’
In the 2010 Yr 4 class of boys, only 13% were above the national standard for reading while the other 87% were ‘below or well below.’ A year later, 14% of this group of boys were above and all of the others had risen to the national standard—i.e. none of the boys were below standard anymore.
On the level of behaviour, the two and a half years of TM Quiet Time has brought a significant drop in conflicts among students. Fewer pupils are sent to see the principal. Visitors comment on the tone of the school, noting that the students are friendly and happy. Those who knew the school before the TM Quiet Time programme began, see the change as remarkable.
Indeed, TM Quiet Time is improving both the minds and hearts of the students who participate. In New Zealand, aroha, the Maori word for love, is used to describe the feeling at a TM Quiet Time school.
All quotations are from the article, ‘Stress-free learning’, in the March, 2012 issue of Tall Poppies.
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