‘Doc’ Rutherford, principal of the Ideal Academy Charter School in Washington, DC, desires to see the Transcendental Meditation Programme in schools everywhere.
by Global Good News staff writer
27 July 2010
Dr Rutherford’s story of how he brought Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation Programme to his school in Washington, DC (and subsequently to two other schools which he started) goes back to the 1990’s. At that time, Dr Rutherford presided over a severely stressed elementary and middle school, Fletcher-Johnson Learning Center. The school was so stressed that is was described as resembling ‘a fortress in an embattled neighbourhood.’
When a Harvard-trained physicist, Dr John Hagelin, visited his school to speak to his students, Dr Rutherford became curious about the ‘educational programs that develop human consciousness' of which the visitor spoke. Doc learnt that Dr Hagelin was specifically referring to Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation Programme and, upon learning more details, found himself wanting to try the technique.
‘Out of the darkness and into the light'
Both Dr Rutherford and his wife learnt. The principal told a reporter that after some time, his colleagues noticed changes in him—he was able to do more and was less hyper. His wife, who had been concerned that the practice might conflict with her beliefs as a devout Christian, soon ‘realized it had nothing to do with religion, and she encouraged our four children to learn also,' Dr Rutherford reflected. He then added, ‘It was a beautiful experience.’ (www.iapcs.com/news/what_s_new/)
Next, Dr Rutherford visited the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in Fairfield, Iowa, where all the children practise the Transcendental Meditation Technique. After seeing these smiling, meditating children, he exclaimed, ‘This is too good for just 600 kids in Iowa. I want this for my kids, and I’ll have it!’ (Enlightenment magazine, volume 2, issue 3),
Doc Rutherford set out to give his students the same opportunity the Fairfield students had—‘to be happy children and to get a better quality of life. I felt the Transcendental Meditation Programme would be one of the vehicles to bring us out of the darkness and into the light.’ (Enlightenment Magazine, volume 2, issue 3)
Dr Rutherford explained to Enlightenment Magazine that once 35-40 teachers and 5th and 6th graders had learnt the Transcendental Meditation Technique, ‘The next thing we did was to put in the ‘Quiet Time’. We knew that our students wouldn’t get chances at home to meditate, so we thought it was best if we gave them a chance at school. We knew something needed to take place in the mornings, because we had a lot of fights. Our kids were very restless in the morning because of the stress, because the night before they probably heard gunshots and didn’t get any sleep.
‘So we put twenty minutes of Quiet Time in the morning and those students that wanted to meditate did. Other students had to be quiet. They read books or did homework in a quiet way.
‘And in the afternoon we had a lot of problems stopping fights on the street in front of the school. So from 3:10 to 3:30 we put Quiet Time in again.
‘And we didn’t have any fights. I used to go down to the street on a regular basis to stop fights, and it was very dangerous doing that. We were able to not have any fights once we put the Quiet Time in, so we knew the benefit was great.’
Academic achievement went up
Dr Rutherford continued telling Enlightenment Magazine about the success of the programme. ‘Our next goal,”’ he said, was to raise our academic achievement, and we found out that our test scores did go up. One of the reasons was the Quiet Time, getting the students ready before the standardized test. In spite of all the negative activities that were taking place in the community around that school, our students did extremely well.
‘The meditation during Quiet Time helped to remove the stress that they were bringing to school. This alone made for a more pleasant environment.’
‘We can help remove all the stresses from all the students’
Commenting to Enlightenment Magazine on the violence that has taken place even in suburban schools with wealthy student populations, Dr Rutherford continued: ‘…I’m saying that what we are doing in the inner-city schools can also benefit those in suburban areas, especially Transcendental Meditation.
‘Students are students; young people are young people. Some come to you with a different set of stresses than others, but they all need a way to remove stress. With the Transcendental Meditation Programme, I think we can help remove all the stresses, from all the students, and make for more quality living for all our children.’
Postscript: Dr Rutherford retired from Fletcher-Johnson a few years after implementing the Transcendental Meditation Programme there. Then, he unretired to help start up a school in Baltimore. Work done, he stepped down from that school. Then, in love with teaching kids, he came back five years ago to run Ideal Academy Public Charter School, where ‘Quiet Time with Transcendental Meditation’ was written into the school’s charter, approved by the DC Board of Education.
Coming soon: In an upcoming Excellence in Action article, Education solutions: Cost-effective: A cost-effective, successful, common sense programme, we hear more from Doc Rutherford about how he got Quiet Time with Transcendental Meditation started at Fletcher-Johnson and just what this programme means for a school.
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