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Helping Teens Grow in Times of Crisis: The Hero’s Journey 

How can heroic narratives help teenagers?

We can look at “the hero’s journey” as a framework for what we are collectively experiencing as a society today.  Joseph Campbell is perhaps the world’s most renowned expert healthy teens at a partyon mythology and advisor to the likes of George Lucas, who based Star Wars on this archetypal journey. As adults, we need to help our students/children find their own archetypal journey amidst the grief and loss they are experiencing. We seek to reframe these challenging times in a way that is realistic, while observing quarantine protocol, but also give them hope for the future.

I want to talk about what has become an important topic during this time of isolation: the social-emotional well-being of our students. The stress and anxiety that adults experience are felt even more intensely by our adolescents. They may express their feelings in ways that are hard to interpret and even downright exasperating. That’s why the Hero’s Journey  can be a useful template to young adults and I am including a diagram of the journey, as I think it might be helpful for you to share with your children.

The Hero’s Journey

The Hero’s Journey is a classic story structure that’s shared by stories worldwide. Designed by academic Joseph Campbell in 1949. Many author’s draw on it to illustrate a wide-ranging category of tales in which a character ventures out to get what they need, faces conflict, and ultimately triumphs over adversity. The Hero’s Journey can be broken up into 4 main parts.

heros journey for teens in crises

Part 1: The ‘Call to Adventure’

The journey begins with some event that pulls the hero away from the comforts of home into an unknown world. Resistance to the call (the pull to remain in a child-like state) is normal as venturing out into the unfamiliar can be a daunting task. According to Joseph Campbell there could be a supernatural guide or mystical item that encourages the hero to go forward.

 

 

Part 2: The Initiation

Once the call to adventure is accepted by the hero, the journey will be the ultimate test and reveal  their true nature. The trials experienced on this road will force the hero to lose old coping skills and be pushed to new levels of self discovery. All energy in this phase is concentrated on resolution. A humbling of our hero occurs when there’s successes and failures, discovering new values, beliefs, and gains a deeper wisdom because of this. In this phase our hero may find a mentor or seek guidance from a higher power to aid on their journey

One example of the therapeutic use of the Hero’s Journey is by the CRC Health Group , which includes a wildlife treatment program that helps over 30,000 people every day overcome addiction and related issues. Meghan Vivo reflects on this issue in her blog “Slaying the Dragon: Teens Embark on the Hero’s Journey in the Wilderness.”

“Although the mythological road of trials is made up of ogres, demons, and three-headed monsters, today’s teenage hero faces obstacles like overcoming his use of alcohol, drugs, or other addictive and high-risk behaviors. His battle is with himself.”

Part 3: The Hero’s Transformation

The actions taken thus far on the journey have deeply changed our hero. There’s an inner and perhaps outer transformation that takes place when all tasks have been completed. This is necessary before the hero can return home with an expanded vision of life, a matured understanding of self, and lessons that will enrich the family as well as the boarding students at Maharishi Schoolcommunity.

Part 4: The Return 

The hero has a transformed perspective and is therefore “reborn” into an evolved version of self. Meaning has been found in the hero’s life where before there may have been a sense of purposelessness. Our hero has triumphed over the enemy and has returned with the freedom to live.

Life slows down and growth speeds up

You may be wondering what all of this has to do with being a teenager during a pandemic. Well many who study Joseph Cambell have related the coronavirus to a similar catalyst in the Hero’s Journey, the dark night of the soul. Here is an article by Vogler that he wrote a number of years ago explaining the hero’s journey. The website actually includes a new article that specifically likens Covid 19 to the “dark night of the soul.” Vogler explains in the following paragraph what that means.

“If it (coronavirus) really is the global darker night where the self-destructive complexity became as bad as it could get and in order to survive we had to hit a wall, then the virus is going to remain long enough to complete what it needs to do to create the circumstances needed to complete our transformation.”

Today’s experience of isolation can push us to the brink of what we previously were comfortable with in our minds. Perhaps we are forced to examine unhealthy habits of eating, or parts of ourselves that need closer work. This anxiety and/or depression that people are experiencing can be channeled into a drive for growth, adventure and challenge. One way that inner growth can be achieved is through the Transcendental Meditation® technique. To transcend, by definition, means to go beyond human limitations and to break boundaries. At Maharishi School, we teach you a technique to break internal boundaries and to sink deep into yourself, to tap into your essence and live in a state of flow.

Consciousness-based education

To learn more about the Hero’s Journey during the coronavirus click here.

To learn about Transcendental Mediation at our school click here.

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Maharishi School in the Southeast Iowa Union 4/30/20

Classes have continued over Zoom for Fairfield’s private school

FAIRFIELD — While most schools in Iowa have opted for voluntary distance education during this quarantine, Maharishi School has not. The private school in Fairfield specializing in consciousness-based education has made its coursework mandatory.

That means the school can do everything it would during a normal school year, like give grades, which schools doing voluntary learning have offered options of giving students a “P” for passing instead of typical letter grades.

Maharishi School Head Dr. Richard Beall

Dr. Richard Beall, Maharishi School Head

Richard Beall, co-head of the school, said there were a number of reasons Maharishi School chose to make its classes mandatory, one of which was that administrators believed the students would benefit from sustained structure to their days. But first, the school had to determine whether its students had access to internet and devices to allow for online learning.

“We had to troubleshoot solutions for some families, and there are still instances where signal strength or other problems occur,” Beall said. “But generally our students and families have been able to connect and adjust to this different type of learning.”

Beall said most students strongly prefer the traditional, in-person style of education. Some students actually prefer the online model, while others are struggling with it.

“That is definitely a downside to this, but we’re trying to make adjustments — in collaboration with our teachers, students, and parents — to help these students succeed,” Beall said.

Parental investment

Another reason that Maharishi School is requiring participation is that parents have made a financial commitment to the school, and the school wants to fulfill its responsibility by finishing the academic year to the best of its ability. Academic director Kaye Jacob said a number of parents from other countries have sent their children to Maharishi School to prepare them for entry into U.S. colleges and universities.

“They have entrusted their children to our care and we want to provide them the best support we can, from keeping them safe in the dormitory on campus to offering them a full academic experience even under these circumstances,” Jacob said. “For those students who went home early, that even means setting up synchronous tutorial sessions for them when it is evening here and morning there, just to be sure they are able to keep up with their classes.”

Kaye Jacob, Academic Director, Maharishi School

Kaye Jacob, Academic Director, Maharishi School

The school’s enrollment director Carol Chesnutt said those boarding students who returned home to China or Korea last month are expected to complete their work just like everybody else.

“Of course, we don’t expect them to stay up until 4 a.m. to attend all the classes but they do need to arrange a separate time to meet with the teacher during the early morning or evening,” Chesnutt said. “This has stretched the workload for many of our high school teachers, but we do what we have to do to get these students ready for college.”

Maharishi School students will receive a full semester’s credit for their work, and most importantly, Jacob said, they will be ready for their next adventure. The school’s seniors have gained admittance to demanding colleges such as Oberlin, Sarah Lawrence, Princeton, Agnes Scott, the University of Iowa and Iowa State University.

“A significant number of our students are taking AP exams in a total of 11 different courses this spring and of course we want them to be fully prepared for those exams also,” Jacob said.

Jacob said the school has worked with families to set them up for distance education, whether by helping them get internet connectivity and even dropping off resources at their homes.

“For us, there really has not been a disadvantage to making school mandatory,” Jacob said. “I think our parents appreciate it also, as their kids are productively occupied all day long.”

Getting ready

In March, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced that classes would be suspended beginning March 16 to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Even before this announcement, Maharishi School was busy preparing for distance learning. It used a professional development day to make a plan, and rolled it out two days before the school’s scheduled Spring Break. The school and its students took that break as planned, from March 23-27, during which time its teachers were preparing for online courses once the break ended.

Explore maharishi preschool“The next big reality check was when we knew this wasn’t a stopgap but would be our mode of instruction the rest of the school year,” Jacob said. “That called for some additional changes and adaptations, especially in preschool and Lower School.”

Online learning

Chesnutt is teaching an AP economics course to upper school students, and she’s found plenty of material on the internet for her students to study. She said she has made use of the “flipped” classroom model, whereby students are asked to watch a video or read an article at home, and then she will recap the concept and discuss the more obtuse issues during class time.

“Because I only have seven students in my class, I can easily attend to each student and be mindful of who is leaning out rather than leaning in,” Chesnutt said. “In Zoom, you can read a student’s face or expressions much more readily than in a physical classroom. As some students are digesting a new concept, they lean in to the screen, tilt their head, and within seconds they are raising their hand with a question. This close-up view on the learning process is a thrill to me.”

Laurie Eyre teaches two mathematics courses in the upper school. The classes last just 30 minutes each, which means Eyre must be “well organized and efficient.”

“Every minute counts,” she said.

Maharishi School Screenwriting project- online learningThe students meet once a day, five days a week. Eyre said she’s fortunate that her classes are relatively small, which makes it easier to interact and communicate with all the students.

“Zoom has wonderful features like ‘chat’ where I can send a message to all students, a few or one,” she said. “The breakout room feature allows for group work or private meeting time with one or more students without disturbing the others.”

In addition to being head of middle and upper schools, Jacob teaches an 11th grade English class. Her students are working on a literary analysis paper, a major assignment, and that means she often holds video conferences with each student individually as well as in a group.

The school’s physical education teachers are assigning homework, too, in the form of a scheduled fitness regimen. Zara Colazio, who teaches PE along with health and math, remarked “While they are doing their fitness routines on Zoom, I can mute their moans and groans if I want to and just watch the workout.”

Lower school

Lynn Shirai is director of the lower school, covering grades 1-6, and she also teaches third-grade writing. The lower school began its distance education using learning packets from March 18 through April 10, but since then has transitioned to remote online learning through Zoom like the other grades.

The students are receiving instruction in reading, writing, science, social studies, math, physical education, art, and the Science of Creative Intelligence. Shirai said the school is

Lower School student makes bird feeder at home learningtrying to keep parent-assisted homework to a minimum since so many parents are also working at home.

Shirai said teachers are constantly coming up with innovative ways to incorporate hands-on activities with the students, something that is not easy when they can’t meet in person. For instance, many of the grades performed hands-on projects for Earth Day. Second-graders made their own bird feeders.

 

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Supporting Our Students Through Crisis

Safety First

The coronavirus pandemic has changed many things about our daily lives as well as our supporting students through coronaviruschildren’s education. In these times of uncertainty, where is the best place for your children to continue their education?  Here are a few reasons you might want to choose Maharishi School:

  • #1 in Best Private High Schools in Iowa We’re the #1 private/boarding school in Iowa, and the health and safety of our students is OUR #1 priority. One parent has shared their review “My children attended Maharishi School from K-12 grade and it has been the best experience for them. My daughter having just completed her Masters degree in Fisheries and Aquaculture has her dream job in New Zealand. My son is finishing his degree in Software Engineering. Very proud of them and couldn’t have done it without Maharishi School.”
  • Fairfield’s small population makes it a safe town to live in (see our blog about the Top 10 Benefits of Living in a Small Town) for reasons such as having low crime rate, no traffic, and a strong sense of community.
  • Local businesses have stepped up to make their essential services safe for customers. In response, our community is showing immense support for the small businesses that are taking a hit because of the coronavirus. Click here to see what fairfield community member Hannah Layne Nichols has created to raise over $5,000 for local businesses.

Self Care: Stress management for a stressful time

Maharishi School Screenwriting project- online learning

Evelyn Chase Winer, Senior at Maharishi School

While everyone is staying safe at home, releasing built-up stress becomes even more crucial. Our students at Maharishi School have segments of meditation built into their online courses. I interviewed Maharishi School senior, Evelyn Chase Winer, about what her meditation means to her during the time of the coronavirus.

1) How is your meditation more important to you during times of high stress?
Evelyn: During more stressful times, I look forward to having time to sit down and relax. It definitely becomes more important and useful when I am stressed.
2) Have you noticed a change in your stress levels now that you are doing online learning?
Evelyn: I have become a lot less stressed. Being able to stay home all day, relax, not worry about travel, and be comfortable all day while still getting the same amount done is nice.
3) In general, how do you feel about your meditation practice?
Evelyn: I enjoy meditation, just closing my eyes when I’m constantly doing things lets me settle in and be fully aware of how my mind feels. When I don’t meditate for a long period of time, I notice that I can become anxious about simple things. Meditation is a great way for me to clear up my foggy mind and think more clearly.

Creative and Flexible Education

During this lockdown all students at Maharishi School are currently engaged in remote students doing projects online during coronavirus pandemiclearning. As this crises evolves we will continue to flex and respond to the needs of our students. We may be able to return to in class learning but, regardless, our focus will always be on the individual needs of the students. This is the advantage of being a small school where every child is known and every child is attended to.

What is our response to the coronavirus?

As a small school with a competent and compassionate staff, we can assure you that Maharishi School will reach across this digital divide to care for each student. We ask that you also share with us your thoughts, ideas, and concerns so we can collaborate for your child’s best interests and on-going educational experience. Our school updates parents on safety and what our school is doing to prevent an outbreak several times a week. Our administration is in constant contact with the local public health officials. Click here to read more about how the school is responding to the coronavirus.

fairfield iowa

To learn more about our academics or to contact a member of our admissions staff, click here.

To learn more about school events and student life, follow us on Facebook and Instagram.