by Consciousness-Based Education Association
22 July 2010
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 in a variety of species 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, should be 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 for suggesting the type of educational experiences that are especially important at different stages of growth.
Within the first one or two years of life, as the human brain develops, the primary sensory and motor areas are the first to mature. The areas associated with higher brain functioning mature over a longer period of time, through late childhood. The maturation of language areas is complete by age 8.
After age 10, development continues primarily in the integrative systems of the brain, which connect the various cortical areas. For example, among the last areas of the brain to mature, up to early adulthood, is the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with overall integrative control of body and mind.
The development of the brain in childhood is the foundation for the growth of the child’s sensory, motor, and cognitive abilities. Education focuses on developing these abilities.
Even if educators do not attend to the process of brain development in childhood, they do select learning experiences that suit the state of sensory, motor, and cognitive development of school children. In so doing, they are in fact selecting experiences most suitable for the children’s current state of brain development.
For example, preschool education and family interactions in the first years of a child’s life naturally stimulate the development of sensory and motor competencies, and rudimentary language skills. This corresponds to the period when the sensory and motor areas of the brain have developed and the language areas are maturing.
Primary school education exercises language skills and the nascent reasoning abilities of the child. At this time, language areas of the brain are completing their development, and cortical association areas involved in higher brain functioning are maturing.
What kind of educational experience is most valuable for students after the early grades? After age 10, as noted previously, the main locus of brain maturation is the integrative systems of the brain. Therefore, the type of experience most crucial for unfolding the individual’s brain potential from middle school through higher education should be that which develops higher integration of brain functioning.
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.
It is true that reasoning ability depends on the maturation of the brain’s integrative systems; however, limiting the educational experiences of students only to the continued exercise of their reasoning skills is not sufficient to further develop the brain’s potential, and to unfold higher integration of brain functioning.
The unique specialty of Consciousness-Based Education, developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, is that it does precisely this: it develops integrated brain functioning, which has many benefits in the area of education. Research studies over the last 40 years consistently show, for example:
• Increased intelligence and reduced anxiety among high school students:
A longitudinal study of students practising the Transcendental Meditation Programme in four Canadian high schools showed significant improvement in intelligence, creativity, tolerance, self-esteem, and five other personality factors, in comparison to randomly assigned controls.
• Increased practical intelligence, IQ, creativity, and field independence and reduced anxiety among high school students:
A longitudinal study of students practicing the Transcendental Meditation Programme in three Taiwan high schools showed significant improvement in practical intelligence and IQ, creativity, and field independence, in comparison to randomly assigned controls that practiced contemplative meditation or napping.
• Improved academic achievement, cognitive abilities, creativity, and self-esteem:
Research has shown that the practice of the Transcendental Meditation Programme by elementary and secondary students significantly improved academic achievement on national standardized tests; improved cognitive abilities; and improved field independence, indicating broader comprehension with the ability to focus sharply.
Ashley Deans, Ph.D., Global Ambassador for Consciousness-Based Education and Executive Director of Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in Fairfield, Iowa, USA, comments:
“Consciousness-Based education is unique in the world today because, as scientific research shows, it develops more of the brain’s total potential, thereby allowing the student to be more alert and receptive to knowledge.
'Any educator who wants to see the fruits of Consciousness-Based education should come and visit our school. Not only are our students achieving unprecedented success in academics, the arts, sports, and creative problem-solving; they are also wholesome, caring, responsible individuals, destined for leadership in any profession they enter.'
Consciousness-Based Education is also highly recommended by Dave Felicy, director of an after-school programme Nebraska, USA:
'I would highly recommend the use of Consciousness-Based education to help students stay in school. All of the kids in our [Boys and Girls] Clubs who have learned have benefited, and in many cases lives have been completely turned around.
'Children who were lost and withdrawn began to feel self-assured and able to interact with others. Children who were aggressive began to soften and notice others’ feelings. Children who were hyperactive and scattered became more focused and able to follow instructions. I would recommend it to any club or school that is trying to help youngsters grow up and take responsibility for their lives.'
© Copyright 2010 Maharishi Vedic Education Development Corporation