‘You feel less scattered in your mind, because everything is related to consciousness, which is the basis of life, of who you are.’
— Paul Garrido, Dominican Republic, majoring in Sustainable Living
by Global Good News staff writer
28 January 2011
What is Consciousness-Based Education, and how does it fulfil university students’ desires for higher education that helps them develop their full potential and prepare them for success in life?
Students, faculty, and alumni of Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, USA, recently shared their thoughts about the value of its Consciousness-Based system of education.
The university is accredited to the PhD level and offers a wide range of academic programmes in the arts, sciences, business, and humanities to its diverse student body from around the world. Students say Consciousness-Based Education not only gives them a strong academic foundation, but satisfies their thirst for knowledge about the ‘big questions of life and existence’—helping them become fully educated, which at MUM means fully-developed human beings.
Learning from within
Consciousness-Based Education is ‘education from the inside out, rather than outside in,’ says Radhika Kinger, an MA student from India. In schools she attended previously, ‘everything is so “outside”—your learning, your textbooks. It was just like you had to learn something, and you had to get a grade.’ When she came to Maharishi University of Management, she found a very different and welcome emphasis. ‘Here, it’s not just that, it’s learning from within. It’s not about what grades you get, but what is your experience during that learning, and everybody’s learning is different as an individual.’
Another alumna recalls feeling a similar motivation when she chose to pursue her college education at MUM. ‘I really wanted to go to a university where the focus wasn’t just on learning information and academics, but on developing the students and their potential,’ comments the alumna who graduated with her BA degree in 2004. ‘That’s what I wanted from my life—I wanted to grow as a person. I really believe that who you are is the basis of your life, rather than what you know.’
Education that develops the student's consciousness
MUM’s distinguished faculty praise Consciousness-Based Education for promoting effective learning in their students through the development of consciousness.
Their perspective highlights another aspect of the educational system prized by students: faculty bring to their teaching not only expertise in their fields, but personal care and attention to students’ overall well-being and evolution to higher levels of human development.
Fred Travis, PhD, is Dean of the Graduate School and Chair of the Department of Maharishi Vedic Science. ‘Consciousness-Based Education realizes that the teacher teaches and the student learns,’ Dr Travis says. ‘So if learning is an important outcome of education, you want to start with the student. That’s what Consciousness-Based Education does.’
As Director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness, and Cognition, Dr Travis has become an international authority in the delineation of brain functioning in higher stages of human development, focusing specifically on the Transcendental Meditation Technique He explains how Transcendental Meditation helps students learn, by allowing them ‘to take their attention from active, thinking, focused, localized concerns, to the real, quiet source—pure consciousness, the source of thought, the field of intelligence and creativity’.
Sue Brown, PhD, a professor of Vedic Science, gives further insight into the study and experience of consciousness at MUM. ‘Consciousness is that inner essence of awareness of the Self,’ she explains. ‘It’s a topic that’s been talked about a lot in philosophy and psychology. The discussion is very interesting, and we have very lively discussions here about the nature of consciousness. But added to that is the most important thing—really experiencing directly the most settled, most refined level of our own inner consciousness.’
By contacting that field, Dr Travis comments, ‘what students are actually doing is strengthening that connection. It’s like taking pipes and putting them up to a reservoir, and now the reservoir can flow.’
Expanding the container of knowledge—the student's consciousness
‘It is revolutionary in the educational system,’ says Troy van Beek, a Sustainable Living major from Michigan, USA. ‘They’re focusing on expanding the container, and I really like that.’ Instead of just ‘jamming information’ into students, he says, ‘they look at the person’, and how each student can derive the maximum out of the learning environment. ‘I structured my life around trying to stretch my boundaries, and I think that anybody that enjoys that would enjoy MUM.’
Fulfilling the search for knowledge about the 'big questions'
Students see the good effects of Consciousness-Based Education in the growing clarity of their thinking and depth of understanding of what they learn. By experiencing the connection of every field of study with their own inner intelligence, they also become more deeply engaged in learning.
Paul Garrido, an undergraduate student from the Dominican Republic, also majoring in Sustainable Living, describes the rising enthusiasm he feels about his studies. ‘You feel less scattered in your mind, because everything is related to consciousness—which is the basis of life, of who you are,’ he says. ‘If you can’t see how things relate, you don’t really get interested in things. You just do it because you have to—rather than because it’s amazing, it’s fascinating, this is a part of me, part of creation.’
This awakening of knowledge in both the inner and outer fields of life helps fulfil students’ desires to understand the deepest truths of existence.
Before coming to MUM, ‘at some point I realized that I really didn’t know anything at all about life, or existence, or any of the big questions—and I wanted to,’ says Isaac Nevas, a Vedic Science major from Boston, Massachusetts. ‘I can’t think of anyplace else on earth that would be better suited for learning the truth.’
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