Reading, Writing, Required Silence: How Meditation Is Changing Schools And Students
Because the Quiet Time program is relatively new, data on its impact on kids is limited, but early studies point to better grades, fewer suspensions and reports of better mental health among student meditators.
“When you meditate, you produce alpha waves, your body calms down, your pulse drops, you go out of the fight-or-flight mode. Your cortisol levels drop. Your body gets a break. It feels pleasant,” said Joshua Aronson, an associate professor of applied psychology at New York University who has studied the impact of Quiet Time on students.
The David Lynch Foundation focuses its efforts on middle schools and high schools with higher-than-average rates of absenteeism, teacher turnover, and gaps in grades and graduation rates. In a survey released last month, the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic Inc. found that the nation’s highest-ranked teachers named family stress, poverty, and learning and psychological problems as the top barriers to academic success.
“Your body chemistry and brain activity is set up to keep you alive,” Aronson said. “These kids in the inner city, they are in this fight-or-flight mode that has their body focused on that, and in that situation they are chronically hyperalert. They can’t care at a deep level about algebra because the brain doesn’t care about high-level abstract reasoning when the switch has flipped and it’s trying to keep you alive. That constitutes to a severe bar on the readiness to learn.”