Let me introduce you to an approach to education like no other.
Our story begins…
Shortly after our wedding, in 1981, my wife Andrea and I joined an intrepid group of young educators who were in the process of creating a new school, a school markedly unique. It would be college prep, to be sure. And we envisioned a full array of extracurricular offerings.
But what would set the school apart—our pioneering contribution—would be the twice-daily practice of yoga and meditation. Our kids, and teachers, would take time each day to transcend the buzz and busy-ness and stresses of daily life, to experience quiet within. To dissolve stress systematically instead of accumulating it day after day, year after year. To find and unfold their own true self, from within.
What were we thinking? How could you possibly take that much time from a school day already packed with competing time demands?
Our confidence came from two sources. First, our own experience with the Transcendental Meditation technique had proven its effectiveness in delivering much-needed rest each day, but also in the transformative social and emotional growth we’d gained and witnessed in others.
Second, there was already a boatload of scientific research verifying the benefits: from reduced blood pressure and anxiety to improved creativity and learning ability. So Maharishi School (grades 7-12) was founded, filling the gap between the existing elementary and university programs. Now there was a complete system of education, from Preschool through Ph.D, that offered an alternative: a school that complemented all the typical “outer” school programs and experiences with an “inner” ally.
Where We Are Today
Little did we know that decades later, yoga would be everywhere: in an upscale Shanghai shopping mall, in the Denver airport, in many schools, churches, and business wellness programs. Or that more than one hundred schools across the country and around the world would implement the TM program to manage stress and optimize brain functioning for their students and teachers. Or that Maharishi School would have achieved such a legacy of academic excellence, extracurricular achievement, and holistic personal development. But by including the consideration of consciousness in our model, we expanded on what “holistic” really means.
Consciousness-Based Education Defined
We can define consciousness very simply: How alert or awake are we, to our environment or ourselves? At Maharishi School, the foundation of our college preparatory program is optimal alertness. This isn’t a new idea. The Latin roots of “education” contain two concepts. First, educare: to train or mold. That’s traditional education. Students are like empty vessels to be filled with information, or unformed clay to be molded into shape by outer hands.
But there’s a second root concept, educere: to lead out. That’s inside out education. That’s acknowledging that there is something inherent within each student to be nurtured and unfolded. That’s been missing from education and that’s what Consciousness-Based education (CBE) provides: inner development for outer success. That’s 200% education.
The Maharishi School Difference? Depth, Verticality
So twice a day in their meditation our students and teachers take a dive, from the active surface of the mind to the naturally silent levels deep within. But that’s not the only vertical difference. They also have an interdisciplinary course that identifies underlying universal principles of how life is structured and functions.
Ever wonder what possible connection there might be between math and literature classes? Our students see in them the same dynamics of growth, of layers, of action-reaction. This is deep thinking, making connections between all the details on the surface of life with the big ideas at their basis. Educators call this Higher Order Thinking Skill, the ability to perceive patterns and unifying concepts amidst complexity. That skill is an asset in making sense of the world, in analytical writing, and in seeing the relevance of disparate topics for oneself.
In his new book, Walter Isaacson comments: “I embarked on this book because Leonardo da Vinci is the ultimate example of the main theme of my previous biographies [Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs]: how the ability to make connections across disciplines—arts and sciences, humanities and technology—is a key to innovation, imagination, and genius.”
When our students practice Transcendental Meditation and connect the surface study of different subjects to deeper principles, they are brain training. They are developing a habit of higher order thinking, of seeing the world from a calmer, more comprehensive perspective. That’s a firm foundation for success in school and in life.
Our School Culture
If we dive deep into our school culture, what would we find as its bedrock? Our five Core Values are: Respect, Responsibility, Solutions, Service, and Transcending. Challenging, trying times reveal who we really are as human beings. We aspire to cultivate Respect in our students at all times, even under duress. That acknowledges a sense of Responsibility for Solutions, rather than an acceptance of opposition or conflict. Don’t agonize, organize. Don’t grumble, seek solutions.
When we respectfully accept responsibility for finding solutions in life, society is served, and we can transcend the status quo to find new potential, new paradigms. This is Maharishi School’s version of holistic education. It includes not just an array of academic subjects and extracurricular pursuits. Not just character development from outer examples and training. But leading out the phenomenal gifts and potential in the silence of each person’s inner self.
We hope you will join us in this exploration and discovery. Dr. Richard Beall