Using the power of meditation has led to a remarkable turnaround for the students at a school in northern California. Mandatory ‘Quiet Time’ periods were introduced to help with problems at the Visitacion Valley School, which is located in a disadvantaged area near San Francisco. The children are given two 15 minute periods each day in which they sit silently and are encouraged to let go of everyday stresses and traumas.
There were many doubters when the school district decided to try this new method of tackling the problems caused by daily fights and tension… but the results have been outstanding. The ‘Quiet Time’ programme has seen a 98% improvement in attendance, while suspension rates have fallen by almost 80%. In addition, there has been a “notable improvement” in academic performance and a much more pleasant environment for everybody.
Barry O’Driscoll, the school’s athletic director, admits he was dismissive of the idea in the beginning, but has been more than pleasantly surprised. He sees a remarkable change in “these children who see guns on a daily basis”. He notes that “the kids say they now feel more conscious of their actions… calmer and less angry”.
Another school in the same area was encouraged by these results to try the ‘Quiet Time’ programme and they too experienced dramatic positive results. The principal Bill Kappenhagen was also sceptical of meditation at first but soon became a convert. He sums it up this way: “There is no magic wand in education… however, meditation has been found to increase focus and stimulate a sense of calm – not just during the quiet time, but also for the rest of the day.”