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by Aingeal Ní Mhurchú of The Southern Star

"IT is really a tragedy what education does to our children – it stifles their desire to know," maintains Ashley Deans, PhD, a quantum physicist and director of an award winning school in Iowa, which uses transcendental meditation to help ease students through the stresses of the system.
Dr Deans has just completed an educational seminar tour in Australia and New Zealand and also went to India and China. His ten-nation tour includes Ireland and he is due to come to Cork next week to give a talk at a conference.
"I was in Cork in 1969. I loved it. I went to Kinsale, so I am really looking forward to coming back," he stated.
The internationally renowned education expert was born in England and now resides in Fairfield, Iowa, with his family. He went to Toronto in 1970 to do his PhD at York University and, while there, he learned about the transcendental meditation in 1973. Then, he became interested in all of the research that was being done on the brain.
After he finished his PhD in physics he became a teacher of transcendental meditation. Since then, he started looking at the research and teaching of TM. He was subsequently invited to join the physics faculty at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, and then in 1991 he was invited to become the director of the Maharishi School, which he accepted.
Since then, he 'really has been enjoying teaching at the school and running the school, as well as seeing the effects of having the transcendental meditation programme in the curriculum.' He maintains this gives so many benefits to the students.
"Both of my boys went from pre-school all the way up through high school and then they went to Maharishi University of Management. My eldest boy, Bryon, graduated from there with a double major in electronic engineering and physics and my younger boy graduated with a degree in Maharishi Vedic Approach to Health," he said.
Deans is married to Jane. They met in Canada, where she also was a teacher of TM, and they got married in 1980.
According to Deans, one of the hazards to modern education is that it is stressful to the students because of the emphasis on constant evaluation and constant testing on memorisation, on the information-based system that is prevalent. It really involves trying to cram as much information into the student as possible and obviously for many students this is very stressful.
"What it does is it damages the brain because it focuses the mind on specific, narrow, fragmented channels of knowledge and that results in fragmented narrow brain development. It also stresses the physiology in ways that create anxiety and depression and it creates a situation where many students turn to alcohol as a stress management technique.
"We have to remember that all the criminals in the jails went to a high school somewhere, so obviously the high schools failed to prevent crime," he maintains, going on further to say that they failed to prevent disease; that they actually create disease through stress, because we know that 90% of diseases are stress-related.
"Elaborating on the central theme of his work, Dr Deans stated: "It is really a tragedy what education does to our children. Then, even more than that, it stifles their desire to know, because if you go into any school anywhere and look at the kindergarten children, you will find that they are absolutely overwhelmed with the desire to know everything; they never stop asking questions.
"But if you go to talk to a group of fifteen-year-olds or sixteen-year-olds, you will be lucky to get a question at all although they will probably ask you 'is this going to be on the test?'"
He maintains school itself stifles that desire to know everything. There now is a system of consciousness-based-education that develops the whole brain physiology. That is what is so exciting about this system of education.'
The modern scientific research, which uses EEG and PET scans to look inside the brain during the practice of transcendental meditation, shows the whole brain becoming enlivened as a result of this practice.
"When the researchers look at the outcomes in terms of education, they find that these students are growing in terms of intelligence, in creativity, in psychological stability, in emotional maturity, in higher states of consciousness – all of the qualities that are essential to become a good student and that are completely not developed at all in modern education. "Modern education doesn't make you more intelligent," he maintains. "In fact, research clearly shows that intelligence rises until about the age of eighteen and then it slowly begins to go down."
According to Deans, the core principles of education should be to go back to the roots of the word education and education comes from the Latin educo, which means I lead out. What education does today is it crams in.
Dr Deans believes there are three components to education. There is the knower (student), the known (knowledge, facts, etc.) and the process of knowing. TM develops the knower by expanding the conscious capacity of the mind.
Deans maintains that all the processes of modern education is on the known. A book is really 'just fossilised thought and students spend their whole career studying the fossilised thoughts of other people. They never get to experience the full range of their own thought.
"Thoughts are always coming and knowledge comes from thoughts. Ultimately, every book in the library has originated from human thought, so what TM consciousness based education does is it allows a student to experience finer and finer levels of the development of their own thought until they can transcend the subtlest impulsive thought and experience that field of pure consciousness at the source of thought and this is the source of total knowledge."
He maintains that, at schools today, we give students partial, fragmented knowledge and that give rise to partial fragmented brain development, but through consciousness based education we are now able to give the student the experience of the field of total knowledge within themselves.
He said the research shows that this gives total brain development. In a nutshell, education should lead to total brain development and should unfold the inner genius of every student.
Dr Deans alluded to William James, who said a hundred years ago that we only use a small fraction of our full mental potential, "so if that is five or ten per cent, that is not a very good advertisement for modern education because you could turn that around and say that education fails to develop ninety per cent of our potential, whereas consciousness based education unfolds a hundred per cent of the child's potential.
"It is a completely new insight into education and should be applied in every school immediately," he urged.
Deans commented that when students are beginning to develop their whole brain physiology, they are also able to dissolve the harmful effects in the physiology and they become more alert, brighter, more intelligent and they become happier and more at ease. They also have better social relations.
He said that there are some schools in Washington DC that specialise in children with learning disabilities – in particular ADHD. Sarina Grosswold and Dr William Stixrud have been doing research there and they have just started a project at the Kingsbury School of Washington DC with about a hundred students.
"What they found is that there is a dramatic decrease in stress levels immediately with the students and then the brain wave research shows highly significant increases in brain wave coherence in the first three months. That brain wave coherence is very interesting, because it involves the frontal and pre-frontal cortex.
"It is that area of the brain that is really the thinking brain. The pre-frontal cortex is becoming engaged or becoming enlivened. That correlates with these children's experience, so they are able to concentrate better and are able to pay better attention in class.
"They feel happier they are calmer and they don't get violent so often," Deans said. What is apparent is that many of these learning disorders are actually stress-related. They are related to the fact that modern education does not develop the whole brain.
He said that, when film director David Lynch visited Maharishi School, he was so inspired that he decided at that time that he wanted to start a seven billion dollar endowment fund, so any child in the world who wanted to avail of consciousness based education could do so.
"He is now building up that endowment. It is David Lynch, with the help of Cork's singer-song-writer Donovan, who are inspiring donors to give to the David Lynch Foundation and they are funding these schools."
Meanwhile, for those interested, Dean's book, 'A Record of Excellence,' chronicles the extraordinary success of consciousness-based education.

Reprinted with the kind permission of The Southern Star and Aingeal Ní Mhurchú




"Practising TM, you always feel that your life is moving in a forward direction. This cuts across many aspects of your life, general wellbeing, social interactions, intellectual acumen, etc. The process is usually gradual but noticeable nevertheless.”
- Philip Magnier, technical writer.


"Over my years in business, Transcendental Meditation has been a real competitive advantage. I have the mental clarity and alertness for both laser-like focus on the details as well as broad comprehension.”
- Steve Rubin, Chairman and CEO, United Fuels International, Inc.