Meditation, the practice of training the mind, is slowly but steadily working its way into schools. Dubbed as Quiet Time, a meditation program based on Transcendental Meditation (TM), it aims to boost students’ grades, improve performance and cognitive development, and most especially, reduce stress and violence.
In a perfect world, school children coexist seamlessly. But in reality, fights and bullying happen. It’s a fact that’s more prevalent in public schools, especially ones within the vicinity of low-income and high-crime-rate neighbourhoods. It sounds sad, but it’s true.
Meditation in Visitacion Valley School
In San Francisco (SF), Visitacion Valley Middle School, a school situated in one of SF’s poorest areas, has been incorporating Quiet Time into their daily activities since 2007. Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders would pause for 15 minutes twice a day and meditate.
After four years, the changes were drastic. Students started getting better grades and the number of suspensions plummeted—a 79% reduction to be exact.
Meditation in Burton High School
Burton High School, also located in SF and in fact, quite near to Visitacion Valley School, has also squeezed meditation into their school schedule. Although their principal, Bill Kappenhagen, greeted the idea coolly at first saying “there’s no way” he will “steal time” from maths or English classes for meditation. He warmed up to the idea eventually.
Instead of “stealing time” from classroom instruction, he ended up extending school hours for half an hour to accommodate Quite Time. And just like the other school nearby, the number of suspensions dramatically dropped in Burton High. Principal Kappenhagen even expressed that the students have become calmer and less angry.
Other Benefits of Quiet Time
Aside from a more peaceful demeanour and better grades, research shows that Quiet Time has improved the students’ creativity, happiness, confidence, and focus. It has also reduced the occurrences of conflict in school.
In addition, teachers experienced the benefits, too. They are able to handle stress and anxiety better and keep burnout at bay.
It’s a win-win situation. Meditation is a gift to both students and teachers. Therefore, every school should find a way to make it a part of every school day. What’s 30 minutes compared with the benefits it offers — attentive students, higher grades, orderly and calm behaviour, better teachers, and many more. Split in half, it is 15 minutes in the morning and another 15 minutes in the afternoon. Surely, those are minutes worth sparing.