“A happy child is readier to learn than an unhappy one” is an old teacher’s catch-cry – and it’s the basis of the Maharishi School’s approach to education.
The Melbourne primary school is well-known for its 10-minute Transcendental Meditation sessions at the start and end of each day, which lay the groundwork for a happy child and a higher level of social-emotional and academic well-being.
New Principal Steve
Those two 10-minute meditation sessions also supply students with a 24/7 state of being in touch with their own and others’ feelings. “We give them the tools to think outside the box and deal with their own sense of self and relationships. That gives kids the strength throughout life to face adversity in a calm manner,” says Steve.
According to Steve, self-awareness means that bullying is rare. “The unity I’ve seen amongst our students in the 15 months I’ve been at the school is quite amazing. It gives us a head start because when the kids are in a good place emotionally, it allows us to focus on their intellectual, social and physical development. Kids can be hamstrung if they’re not happy.”
Steve attributes some of that absent bullying to the school’s small size. “We’re small enough to embrace the individuality of each student. That contributes to kids who know they’re connected, and who are so confident and appreciative that their individuality is embraced that they can face adversity. They don’t have to prove anything - which is often the trigger for bullying, not accepting others for who they are,” he explained.
He cites the case of a 2016 Year 6 boy who was bullied at his new high school this year. His solution to defuse the situation was to do a Michael Jackson moonwalk; the bullying kid said, “Well, I like Michael Jackson too” and the problem was solved. “Only a confident kid will do that,” Steve noted.
With anxiety, pressure and complexity assailing kids today, Steve said Maharishi’s gentle approach seems to be the answer when a “very high” number of parents are medicating their children for a quick fix.
“Visitors can’t understand how calm it is here,” he said. “A school photographer told us recently, ‘That was the nicest photo shoot I’ve ever done. The kids were so loving and happy and natural. Do you mind if I just sit here a bit and soak up the ambience?’ One kid who came to us fleeing a ‘mean’ school literally dances around the grounds, she is so happy,” said Steve.
The school reaches its 20th anniversary this year. It ramped up its sports in 2016 to offer basketball, hockey, athletics, AFL, soccer and tennis; has joined the Sporting Schools program, the District Sports Association and the Collingwood Rookie program; and has a new oval. This year, it has introduced a before- and after-school care program, and a new music program. It is also introducing the iMaths program that immerses students in real-life mathematical investigations and allows teachers to deliver individualised lessons, reflecting the reality that each student has strengths and areas of need that do not fit snugly into a ‘one size fits all’ textbook.
The school has formal and informal opportunities for parents to discuss their child’s progress; teachers always have records of assessment tasks and work samples to support those discussions, and the school regularly reviews its assessment processes. Teachers and parents collaborate to make an Individual Learning Plan for every student that not only identifies areas for development but cultivates each student’s strengths.
“In a recent survey of our parents, 100 percent of respondents were ‘Satisfied’ or ‘Extremely Satisfied’,” said Steve. “We’re pretty happy about that.”
Maharishi School is a Prep-Yr 6 (secular multi-cultural) school in Reservoir, Melbourne, teaching the newly introduced Foundation (Prep)-Year 10 Victorian
This is a sponsored post by Maharishi School