Posts Tagged ‘improving educational outcomes’

First international article on TM in Education: Meditation helps students, by Dana Micucci

August 7, 2012

International Education: Meditation helps students

By Dana Micucci

Published: Tuesday, February 15, 2005

NEW YORK — New research appears to be strengthening the case for teaching Transcendental Meditation in U.S. schools, showing it to be a means to improve the concentration of students and a way to enhance their physical and mental well-being.

Proponents say that students who meditate daily are calmer, less distracted and less stressed and less prone to violent behavior.

A study conducted at the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia, which will be published in the April issue of the American Journal of Hypertension, found that Transcendental Meditation reduced high blood pressure in African-American teenagers. The study tracked 156 inner-city black adolescents in Augusta, Georgia, with elevated blood pressures. Those who practiced 15 minutes of Transcendental Meditation twice daily steadily lowered their daytime blood pressures over four months compared to non-meditating teens who participated in health education classes and experienced no significant change.

The technique was developed 50 years ago by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and consists of silently repeating a mantra for about 20 minutes a day. It found its way into classrooms 30 years ago after Robert Keith Wallace, a medical researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, published the first study on its positive physiological effects.

Since then, studies at universities like Harvard, Stanford and UCLA have shown that Transcendental Meditation can ease stress and enhance both physical and mental health and behavior.

Bolstered by these studies, groups of educators, parents and physicians across the United States have turned to Transcendental Meditation as a possible antidote to rising anxiety, violence and depression among students. Committees for Stress-Free Schools were established last year in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago and other cities. These committees serve as information resources about the potential benefits of meditation for students and teachers.

Transcendental Meditation is a simple mental technique that can have profound physiological effects,” says Gary Kaplan, a neurologist and clinical associate professor of neurology at New York University School of Medicine and chairman of the New York Committee for Stress-Free Schools. “It produces a state of restful alertness that provides the body with deep, rejuvenating rest and allows the mind to reach higher levels of creativity, clarity and intelligence.”

However, initial efforts to introduce the teaching of Transcendental Meditation in schools were controversial. Opponents criticized it as a religious practice and in the mid-1970s a group of citizens brought a lawsuit against several New Jersey high schools, forcing them to withdraw their programs. At the time, a New Jersey court ruled that Transcendental Meditation had religious overtones and therefore could not be offered in a public school.

“The challenge lies in educating people that although Transcendental Meditation is rooted in the Indian Vedic spiritual tradition, it is not a religious practice,” says Kaplan.

At the Fletcher-Johnson School, an elementary and junior high school in a rough Washington neighborhood, meditation has been reported to help to improve student performance and reduce fighting. George Rutherford, the principal who introduced Transcendental Meditation 10 years ago, said, “We saw immediate results.”

He added, “There was a lot of violent crime around the school. But after we trained our students in Transcendental Meditation, they were calmer. There was less fighting, and attendance increased. Students scored better on standardized tests. Transcendental Meditation helped to remove a lot of their stress.”

Now, as principal at Ideal Academy (Public Charter School) in Washington, Rutherford is training teachers in Transcendental Meditation to combat teacher burnout.

At the Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse in Detroit, an elementary and middle school, students and teachers have been practicing Transcendental Meditation twice daily for the past seven years. Carmen N’Namdi, co-founder and principal of the school, says that “given the enormous stresses of today’s world, children, like adults, need to learn how to rest and relieve tension.”

Recent research spearheaded by Rita Benn, director of education at the Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the University of Michigan, found that meditating students at Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse were happier, handled stress better, had higher self-esteem and got along better with their peers than non-meditating students at another Detroit school.

In addition to improving the emotional and social development of children, meditation can also be effective in treating brain disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a study conducted in April 2004 at Chelsea School in Silver Spring, Maryland, a private school for children with learning disabilities.

“We compared students before and after they learned Transcendental Meditation,” said the principal investigator, Sarina Grosswald, president of S J Grosswald & Associates, a consulting firm in medical education in Alexandria, Virginia. “Kids who practiced Transcendental Meditation for 10 minutes twice each day for three months reported being calmer, less distracted, less stressed, and better able to control their anger and frustration.”

This New York Times article was first published earlier that day by the Paris editor of the International Herald Tribune. Click on Meditation helps some students to download a PDF of this groundbreaking article on the front page of the Tribune’s Education section.

Around that time in early 2005, the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace had been established to provide Transcendental Meditation to at-risk students around the world. Today many educational institutions have successfully implemented this Quiet Time program in their schools.

The David Lynch Foundation has since gone on to provide scholarships for TM instruction for other at-risk populations: Native American Indians, the homeless, prisoners, girls and women victims of abuse, and veterans from all wars and their families suffering from post-traumatic stress.

For more information and videos on these programs, visit www.davidlynchfoundation.org.

For veterans, visit www.operationwarriorwellness.org.

For a short overview see these Excerpts From David Lynch Foundation Videos: Changing Lives With Transcendental Meditation.

Search for more DLF and OWW articles and videos posted on this blog.

The David Lynch Foundation Quiet Time Program in San Francisco Schools

May 2, 2012

The David Lynch Foundation Quiet Time Program in San Francisco Schools

Here’s a recently produced inspiring 7-minute video showing the benefits of the Quiet Time program for students, teachers, and administrators at Visitation Valley Middle School, and other schools in the San Francisco Unified School District in California. Principal James Dierke and Superintendent Carlos Garcia are featured.

Here’s another previously posted video and article, with links to more: Meditation for Students: Results of the David Lynch Foundation’s Quiet Time/TM Program in San Francisco Schools | The San Francisco Examiner—Meditation program mends troubled Visitacion Valley Middle School.

MindShiftKQED: How we will learn: Amidst Chaos, 15 Minutes of Quiet Time Helps Focus Students

February 9, 2012

Amidst Chaos, 15 Minutes of Quiet Time Helps Focus Students
February 9, 2012 | 10:36 AM | By Tina Barseghian
Filed Under: Culture, Learning Methods
Students at Visitacion Valley School in South San Francisco
observe 15 minutes of quiet time every morning.

By Kyle Palmer

On a recent morning at Visitacion Valley Middle School in South San Francisco, Principal James Dierke looked out over the school’s auditorium at more than 100 eighth graders. A restless din filled the large room. Bursts of laughter and errant shouts punctuated the buzz. Most of the students seemed disinterested in Dierke’s announcements about the spring’s impending graduation, upcoming field trips, and recent birthdays.

Then, Dierke struck a bell and said, “Okay, it’s quiet time.”

And just like that, a hush fell over the auditorium. Students straightened their backs and closed their eyes. Some bowed their heads. Others rested them on the backs of their chairs. The once-boisterous hall became silent and remained so for the next 15 minutes.

“Visitors are always amazed,” Dierke said afterwards, “but it works. It really is quiet time.”

“Quiet Time” isn’t just a slogan but a daily regimen at Visitacion Valley. The entire school—faculty, staff, and students—spend the first and last 15 minutes of every day in silence. Students are encouraged to use the time to meditate, but Dierke says students can simply clear their mind, think about schoolwork, or even sleep. Just as long as they are quiet.

“I’ve found that it makes people—students and teachers—more joyful,” Dierke said, “To have that time to reflect and be still is important.”

That is not always possible for his school’s students, Dierke said. He said the neighborhood around Visitacion Valley can be rife with violence and crime. “These kids hear gunshots on their way to and from school. That kind of stuff makes it hard to focus on algebra,” he said.

Besides dealing with problems outside school, Visitacion Valley faces challenges in school, too. Nearly 90 percent of Visitacion Valley’s students are classified by the district as socioeconomically disadvantaged and more than 40 percent are English Language Learners.

Dierke, who has been principal at the school for 13 years, said things reached a turning point about five years ago. “We were looking for a way to get kids to relax,” he said. “We saw kids with real post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. I noticed a lot of them missing school, fighting, and getting angry a lot. They couldn’t concentrate on school.”

An assistant principal suggested the idea for quiet time after she saw Hollywood director David Lynch speak about the program and the accompanying benefits of transcendental meditation. Lynch runs a non-profit foundation that promotes meditation in schools and also sponsors meditation retreats for under-served students.

With the help of the David Lynch Foundation and the San Francisco-based Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education (CWAE), Visitacion Valley trained teachers on how to conduct Quiet Time sessions in their class. CWAE specialists counseled students on meditation techniques and five full-time staffers remain on campus to help maintain the program.

Since beginning Quiet Time, Dierke said things have improved: Daily attendance last year was more than 98 percent, and there have been fewer suspensions and higher test scores.

Angelica Mahinay, Visitacion Valley’s 8th grade student body president, said Quiet Time gives her more energy. “I get to school at 7 a.m. for softball practice. It helps me not be so tired during school,” she said.

Eighth grader Art Parkeenvincha moved to San Francisco from Canada in the middle of this year. “I can be really hyperactive,” he said. “I had never done meditation before, but now I do Quiet Time. I think of my mantra, and it helps me calm down.”

Bob Roth, Executive Director for the David Lynch Foundation, said meditation is not just a way for students to relax but has real cognitive benefits. “Meditation strengthens the areas of the brain that control our ‘fear center’,” he said. “It helps kids reduce anxiety and increase their ability to reason and concentrate.”

Principal Dierke said, as a result of Quiet Time, the school’s image is changing. “This school used to be known as the ‘fight’ school,” he said. “Now, I have other principals asking me about Quiet Time. It feels good to have that reputation.”

Two other schools in SFUSD have begun their own Quiet Time programs and a district spokesperson said other schools have begun asking questions about Visitacion Valley’s success.

Visitacion Valley also got attention from actor Russell Brand, who visited the school just before Christmas on a trip sponsored by the David Lynch Foundation. “That was crazy,” Angelica, the student body president, said. “I got to sit right by him and the whole school meditated with him.”

In addition, Dierke said regular Quiet Time has also helped teachers relax. “Only two teachers have left in the past five years, outside of retirements and district layoffs. That’s amazing for an urban middle school,” he said. He attributes that to higher levels of job satisfaction.

Physical Education teacher Barry O’Driscoll agreed that Quiet Time has helped improve the staff’s quality of life. “I was very reluctant when it first started,” he said. “I thought it was just another fad. But now I meditate twice a day, and I do it at home. I think it’s helped my golf game, too.”

Visitacion Valley still struggles with significant challenges. This year, the school has had to integrate more than 100 new students onto campus after another nearby middle school was closed by the district. Likewise, test scores have increased in recent years but still remain low compared to other SFUSD middle schools.

“We’re not perfect,” Dierke said. “Quiet Time is just like an umbrella. When you have it up, it keeps the rain off, and you can focus on trying to build a culture with kids. That’s what we’re gradually doing here.”

The payoff might be most evident in students like Angelica Mahinay, who says, “Man, when I hear students getting an attitude, or they’re saying they’re going to fight, I say, ‘Hey! Just meditate!’”

Related articles: The San Francisco Examiner—Meditation program mends troubled Visitacion Valley Middle School and Meditation for Students: Results of the David Lynch Foundation’s Quiet Time/TM Program in San Francisco Schools, New research shows Transcendental Meditation improves standardized academic achievement, Breaking the “predictive power of demographics”: SF principal talks about how TM helps his students. And here’s a wonderful report from the The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF): Edutopia: SF School Uses TM to Overcome Problems.


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