What is Quiet Time with the Transcendental Meditation programme for schools?
The Quiet Time with Transcendental Meditation programme (Quiet Time/TM programme) consists in adding for a few minutes at the beginning and at the end of the school day the twice-daily practice of a simple, scientifically documented psycho-physiological technique, Transcendental Meditation, that has been found to be effective for the development of brain functioning, cognitive performance, personality integration, and positive social behaviour. No changes in the educational curricula are required other than this addition which can be incorporated as the main element of a ‘Quiet Time’ programme in the school. Students who volunteer and whose parents approve, practice the Transcendental Meditation technique during the Quiet Time moments while others are engaged in non-academic activities such as quiet reading or rest.
This programme addresses the root-cause of negative attitudes and violence by directly promoting the psycho-physiological well-being of all students and learners, including those with a minority or disadvantaged background (migrants, ethnic minorities, etc.).
Quiet Time/TM programme: a whole-school approach
Being a whole-school approach promoting inclusive education, the practice of Transcendental Meditation is offered to teachers, administrators and other school staff from the beginning of the implementation process, and also the parents are strongly engaged in the programme and are accurately informed about the good practice adopted. Parents are also offered the possibility to learn the TM technique if they wish.
The FRIENDS project identified this novel approach as adaptable and replicable to different educational setting, as having the potential of becoming mainstream for its main characteristics:
It is easy to learn
It can be easily implemented at all levels of education, from early child education to upper secondary education
Favouring a comprehensive whole school policy framework that creates a more healthy and inclusive school environment, better relationships between pupils and teachers, and increasing parents’ involvement
It is religion and philosophy neutral
Easily implementable through a new policy, or integrated as a supporting tool for the already existing national policies, in answer to social exclusion and fostering migrants’ integration
Qualified instructors are available in the participating countries and across Europe, facilitating project’s up-scale and sustainability in other European educative contexts
The Quiet Time/TM Programme for social inclusion
The Quiet Time/TM programme has been the subject of hundreds of published peer-reviewed studies, including randomized control trials (RCT) that is a type of scientific experiment, which aims to reduce bias when testing a new approach or phenomenon. People participating in the trial are randomly allocated either to the group receiving the treatment under investigation or to a group receiving standard treatment as the control group.
The results obtained showed a general tendency of holistic students’ development across different dimensions: cognitive, affective, physiological, behavioural, and the social one. It has been also observed a reduction of risk factors associated with minority and disadvantaged learners and early school leavers.
Relevant social inclusion’s studies show:
Greater appreciation of others
University’s students practising the Transcendental Meditation Programme developed more positive and constructive relational patterns than the control group (Perceptual and Motor Skills 64: 1003–1012, 1987)
Individuals participating in the Transcendental Meditation Programme were found to have a strong concern for the welfare of others (Western Psychologist 4: 104–111, 1974)
Secondary students who learned the Transcendental Meditation Programme showed increased tolerance after 14 weeks, in contrast to control students who did not receive the Programme (Dissertation Abstracts International 38(7): 3372B–3373B, 1978).
The uniqueness of the present proposal is that it promotes social inclusion by directly addressing the psycho-physiological conditions of the student that contribute to more effective learning in the classroom and to the reduction of environmental stress of all types. Based on previous published results, the FRIENDS project will identify enablers and barriers for scaling up the experimentation and for producing policy advice with the potential to be transferred into policy actions and policy making creating an impact at the European level.
Overall, the program has been shown to overcome the predictive power of demographics.
Current practice in schools
“Quiet Time should be in every school!”
— Carlos Garcia, Superintendent, San Francisco Unified School District.
The Quiet Time/TM programme has been adopted successfully in many schools worldwide, including very difficult ones in terms high rates of youth behaviour challenges, teacher turnover, and academic achievement gaps. The programme obtained excellent results attracting the interest of Regional and National governments all over the world including the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, India, Kenya, Uganda, Jamaica, Ecuador (in military school), Brazil, and USA. By introducing meditation to the entire school community—students, teachers, and principals alike—this innovative programme has effectively restored a positive culture of academics and well-being in high need school communities.
An explanatory exposé of Quiet Time/TM programme implementation in USA can be found at the following link of David Lynch’s Foundation https://www.davidlynchfoundation.org/pdf/Quiet-Time-Brochure.pdf (this Foundation was started in 2005 by David Lynch for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace and actively teaches TM to adults and children in countries everywhere giving special support and attention to the marginalized ones.
At European level, there are two schools (governmentally supported) that are currently implementing the chosen good practice in the UK and in the Netherlands with an experience of 30 years implementing QT/TMP: Maharishi School Trust Limited, partner in the FRIENDS project, and Stichting Maharishi Onderwijs Nederland.
Maharishi School Trust Limited (see http://maharishischool.com) is a UK Department for Education funded Academy/Free School providing education to students from the ages of 4 to 16 through separate primary and secondary Schools. Maharishi School’s maxim is “The World is My Family”, this because every student from all over the world and of all religious faith and of no religious faith is welcomed to join the school community, developing their own full potential through daily Transcendental Meditation practice. Maharishi Onderwijs Nederland’s’ purpose is to have schools in the Netherlands where all the children enjoy Quiet Time with Transcendental meditation. Both schools are non-religious, non-denominational and non-selective schools welcoming all pupils of all cultures, nationalities, and religions. The aspect of knowledge and learning (what you know) is important in each school, but a Maharishi school puts a stronger emphasis on the knowledge of who you are – and how you can develop this from the quietness within yourself.
The two schools are partners of an ongoing EU project called EUROPE – “Ensuring Unity and Respect as Outcomes for the people of Europe” (https://europe-project.org/) funded by Erasmus+ KA3 and implemented in public schools of 3 European countries as Portugal, Sweden and the Netherlands. The project’s aim is to upscale, assess the relevance, impact, and scalability of the Quiet Time/TM approach, more specifically as an instrument to prevent violence, violent radicalization and promoting social inclusion, in different European contexts and disseminating its results and benefits.
In the 2017, the assessment by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills in Maharishi School Trust Limited (UK) was rated as ‘Outstanding’ for personal development, behavior and welfare.
Relevant to the objectives of the FRIENDS project is what the official reports states: “Children behave well and show respect for each other. They understand about taking turns and helping when a classmate is struggling or upset. … Pupils’ attitudes and behaviors are outstanding. They are very keen to learn, they listen well and are able to express their carefully considered views respectfully. Pupils care for each other and make a major contribution to ensuring that their school is cohesive, safe and orderly. Pupils are happy and content.” (Maharishi School Trust Limited UK, 2017: Assessment by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills in the United Kingdom, publication on the Champ news journal, 20th December 2017, p. 6, https://www.champnews.com/papers/pdf/K5117.pdf).