October 2004 Issue --> Family Article
 
What Are Your Kids Really Getting From Their Education?
 
By: Chris Attwood

 



Development of consciousness is key to learning
 
Remember when you were sitting in school taking chemistry, or physics, or English lit, or some other class, and wondering, what does this have to do with me?
 
Kids take classes because we tell them to. After all, education is a good thing, right? So, they go to school, are told how important it is to get good grades, go to college, and get a good job.
 
If they’re good at analytical learning, good at taking tests, good at following “the rules,” then they get good grades, get accepted to college and may or may not get a good job. Or they may go on to graduate school where their studies require they become increasingly specialized. They discover themselves knowing more and more about less and less.
 
If they’re brilliant at synthetic learning (the artists) or are primarily a kinesthetic learner (learning through experience), they probably get really poor grades in school, feel terrible about themselves, and find that they just “don’t fit in.”
 
Whatever the situation, these kids at some point begin wondering, what am I doing all this for?
 
Traditionally, education has focused primarily on what students study. Reading, writing, arithmetic, and then as the students get older, chemistry, physics, algebra, geography, social studies. The focus is always outward. Education has focused on teaching students about something which is outside of them, with little or no attention on the student themselves.
 
Reinventing Education
 
In the past, education has failed to even consider how to develop the student’s capacity to learn, their inner awareness of themselves and their relationship to the world around them.
 
Yet it is the quality of a student’s consciousness, or awareness, that determines their degree of intelligence, creativity, confidence, inner calm, and motivation— all fundamental to their ability to comprehend and absorb knowledge.
 
It’s been said that most of us use only 10% of our full mental capacity. Could that have something to do with the nature of the education we received? Of course it could.
 
Research has shown that electrical activity of the brain in most adults does not activate the entire brain. Such activity is incoherent and non-synchronous between different parts of the brain.
 
On the other hand, increased coherence and synchrony between different parts of the brain has been correlated with increased intelligence, creativity and reasoning ability. The question is: How can education effectively develop whole brain functioning in children so they are able to use 100% of their mental capacity?
 
The Relationship of Brain Development to Education
 
A large body of research reveals that the development and ongoing state of brain functioning is shaped by the nature of the individual’s experience.
 
Research on brain development shows that specific types of experience are necessary for the brain to develop properly.
 
For example, in the early stages of life, sensory experiences are critical for the development of the corresponding sensory structures of the brain. It has also been found that enriched sensory and motor environments in infancy contribute to significantly enhanced development of the brain.
 
Brain development is thus intimately connected with experience. From this perspective, the purpose of education, including early education in the family, is to provide the appropriate experiences, at every stage of growth, that develop the full potential of mind and body, based on fully developing the brain.
 
Analyzing the process of human brain development is useful in understanding the type of educational experiences that are especially important at different stages of growth.
 
Educational Experiences Should Promote Brain Development
 
Even if educators in the past have not attended to the process of brain development in childhood, they have selected learning experiences that suit the state of sensory, motor, and cognitive development of school children. In so doing, they have been selecting experiences most suitable for the student’s current state of brain development.
 
Unfortunately, education has not included a systematic means to directly promote integrated brain functioning. Rather, from middle school onwards, education primarily exercises the individual’s logical reasoning ability in relation to specific bodies of knowledge.
 
Limiting the educational experiences of students only to the continued exercise of their reasoning skills is not sufficient to develop the brain’s potential, and to unfold higher integration of brain functioning.
 
As a result, secondary and higher education have failed to systematically develop the higher brain functioning that is associated with higher cognitive development.
 
So, what is the solution?
 
Consciousness-Based Education
 
Education which focuses on development of the student’s capacity to learn, development of the student’s own inner awareness has been called “Consciousness-based Education.” This approach to education has been pioneered by Maharishi University of Management (MUM) and Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment (MSAE) in Iowa.
 
Consciousness-based education focuses first on development of holistic brain functioning by training students in methods which have been scientifically proven to allow students to experience the full potential of their own consciousness.
 
The foundation of consciousness-based education is the natural and effortless Transcendental Meditation™ (TM) program which develops students’ inner potential. Extensive research on the TM program has shown that this program strengthens the cognitive, physiological, and affective foundations of learning, while promoting healthier life-style choices and positive behavior.
 
At the same time, regular practice of the technique significantly reduces the stress and tension that many students and teachers experience daily, and creates a happy, harmonious, focused learning environment.
 
Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. How do students who have had the benefits of consciousness-based education fare in the world?
 
The Results of Consciousness-Based Education
 
Founded in 1974, Maharishi University of Management (http://www.mum.edu) students have impressive results. Providing fully accredited programs through the Ph.D. level, the University has been a center for research in the field of human consciousness for over 30 years.
 

 
The best measure of a university’s success is the success of its graduates. The University’s graduates have been employed by many top corporations, including Motorola, Rockwell, IBM, Merrill Lynch, Microsoft, Apple Computer, Bank of America, Citibank, Mayo Clinic, and many others.
 
However, the most telling description of the benefits of consciousness-based education is a study which compared MUM graduates to graduates of other colleges.
 
A widely used measure of overall self-development was given to Maharishi University students and to students at three other colleges. Ten years later, well into their careers, these same students were given the test again.
 
People who score at the top two levels of this test are considered self-actualized. Normally only 1% score this high — and scores typically do not change after about age 15.
 
On both the pre-test and the post-test, only 1% of the students from other schools scored at these levels — just what one would expect.
 
Among Maharishi University students, 9% scored at the top two levels on the pre-test (they had been practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique an average of four years at the time). Ten years later, at the post-test, 38% of the same students scored this high — an unprecedented result.
 
Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment (http://www.maharishischooliowa.org) was founded in 1979 and has been fully accredited since 1986. Over the past decade Maharishi School students have won more than seventy state, national and international titles in such diverse areas as science, speech, drama, writing, poetry, spelling, art, photography, history, mathematics, chess, Destination ImagiNation, tennis, golf, and track. In addition, they have demonstrated their desire to help others in society, for example by founding the student organization End School Violence Now and the Students Creating Peace Network.
 
With an open enrollment policy and a student body from a broad socioeconomic background, grades 9-12 consistently score in the 99th percentile on standardized tests year after year, and over the past five years the school has averaged about ten times the national average for National Merit Scholar Finalists. About 95% of the school’s graduates are accepted at four-year colleges and universities.
 
A New Paradigm in Education – Education for Enlightenment
 
It seems pretty clear from these results that the theory behind consciousness-based education is sound. Perhaps this word “enlightenment” we’ve heard so much about is really a description of an individual who is using their total brain.
 
If consciousness-based education develops whole brain functioning, and according to the research whole brain functioning results in:
  • Increased intelligence and creativity
  • Higher levels of moral reasoning
  • Increased use of latent reserves of the brain
  • Orientation towards more positive values
  • Improved academic performance
  • Improved emotional well-being
  • Increased resistance to stress
  • Increased tolerance
  • Reduced aggression and hostility
  • Increased problem-solving ability
  • Reduced anxiety; reduced depression
  • Increased self-esteem
Then, maybe we now have a practical definition of this term “enlightenment” and the technology to give our kids an education which allows them to live a life of fulfillment in that fully developed state.
 
Consciousness-Based education is offered at Maharishi University of Management, where all students culture higher consciousness by practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique.
 
The University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and offers bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in the arts, sciences, humanities, and business. Students take one course at a time, eliminating the stress of homework and exams in several subjects at once. All aspects of campus life nourish the body and mind, including organic vegetarian meals served fresh daily. Visitors Weekends are held throughout the year. For further information, see www.mum.edu.
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