British Psychological Society: Meditation ‘should make the curriculum’

meditationschoolLessons in chanting, meditation, thinking and emotional skills can help school children’s wellbeing and even educational performance, claim psychologists presenting their research at The British Psychological Society’s Transpersonal Section annual conference.

 

“Modern education is designed to help children pass exams in numeracy, literacy, sciences and arts but other life skills are neglected”, said Hara Willow from the Transpersonal Psychology Unit at Liverpool John Moores University.

“We believe that schools should also be teaching children the thinking and emotional skills that help them understand and fulfil their potential as human beings.”In the study, led by Les Lancaster, professor of Transpersonal Psychology at LJMU, 20 secondary school children aged 12 to 15 took part in daily meditation groups and weekly ‘Amazing Lyf’ lessons over two school terms. During the lessons the children learned thinking skills that helped them to reduce stress, enhance positive thinking and solve problems. They also learned emotional skills such as emotional awareness and acceptance, development of self-control and emotional regulation.  

The young people also took part in transpersonal lessons, which taught spiritual practices like meditation, chanting and yoga to develop a deeper sense of connection to other people, to nature and themselves.  This aspect of the project aimed to help the children develop a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in their lives.

The children’s well-being was assessed after six months using psychological measurements of well-being as well as reports from their teachers and parents.

Hara Willow said: “We saw a real improvement in the children’s well-being, and evidence that these lessons were also improving their performance at school. The students became much calmer and happier. They also reported greater self-confidence and self-awareness, and felt more respect for themselves, others and the environment.”

Parents and teachers also saw the benefits. The majority of parents felt their child had benefited from the project, and 75 percent of parents said they felt that their child would benefit from continuing the lessons.  Eleven of the 14 teachers involved said that participating school children’s marks had improved.

One of the children commented: “ Well, when I started it I thought all we did was just go to school and then when we are older just go to work, and that was it, but now I know we can do more than just do that, we can help others and we can help the world and stuff.” 

This study was carried out at Hilbre High School Humanities College, West Kirby, Wirral.  Following it’s success, the psychologists (under Professor Les Lancaster) are planning a second trial at Hilbre High School in November 2008 but with children aged 11 to 18, and a further project at Neston Primary School, Wirral in January 2009.

 

Discover More: This research was presented at The British Psychological Society’s Transpersonal Section Annual Conference, which took place in Scarborough from 12 – 15th September 2008. Source: Press Release, BPS Transpersonal Psychology Section