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Maharishi Free School: the curriculum and organisation of learning Overview The Maharishi Free School curriculum provides

an academic framework that encourages pupils to embrace and understand the connections between traditional subjects and the real world, enabling them to become analytical, reflective and creative thinkers who are able to realise that ‘the world is my family’. There is a body of teaching principles that constitute an integral part of Consciousnessbased Education (CbE) and which form the common core of teaching philosophy and practice at the Maharishi School. These teaching principles are organised under the five fundamentals of Consciousness-based Education: Receptivity Intelligence Knowledge Experience Expression

When these fundamentals are fully implemented, learning is easier, more successful and fulfilling. The learning environment is structured to support and nourish all students regardless of learning style, abilities, background, or gender. Primary emphasis in teaching is given to providing comprehensive learning experiences for students of all ages, which allow them to move through the cycle of: Knowledge → Action → Achievement → Fulfilment

Students are encouraged to work actively with the knowledge they are gaining, and to share it with others in a variety of ways. When these principles are fully enlivened in the life of the school, the hallmarks of good education are realised, such as an enthusiasm for learning and appreciation for the teacher. The Maharishi Free School curriculum provides a framework tailored to age and ability for developing an appropriate academic challenge that encourages pupils to embrace and understand the connections between traditional subjects and the real world, and become analytical, reflective and creative thinkers. The curriculum has regard to the National Curriculum and associated guidance within the overall framework of the approach used by Consciousness-based Education. Traditionally, education has focused primarily on what the students study — the objective aspect of knowledge, the ‘known’. Little attention has been given to developing the abilities of the student to learn and the teacher to teach. Education has lacked a systematic means of developing the full value of the knower and the processes of knowing, making the acquisition of complete knowledge impossible. The quality of the students’ awareness — their intelligence, creativity, and receptivity to knowledge; their sense of self and confidence in their capabilities; their ability to comprehend both broadly and deeply — is fundamental to successful educational outcomes. Truly successful education cannot lie solely in what the pupils learn or in what they are taught. Ultimately the degree of success of education depends upon the development of every pupil’s ability to understand and comprehend. Whereas other methods and programmes depend for their effectiveness on whatever receptivity, intelligence, creativity, and neurophysiological integration the students may already have, this system of education directly develops these characteristics in all the students irrespective of their background, attitudes, gender, or abilities. This understanding reflects a fundamental concept of Consciousness-based Education – ‘Knowledge is Structured in Consciousness’ – this is the core of the educational philosophy and motto of the Maharishi Free School. By developing the full potential of each student, Consciousness-based Education can bring success to any educational endeavour and the highest ideals of education can be realised by every student.
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Maharishi Free School: the curriculum and organisation of learning The Maharishi Free School’s commitment to systematically developing the full potential of every student and teacher is realised through their daily practice of Transcendental Meditation or Word of Wisdom. Transcendental Meditation (TM) or Word of Wisdom is an easily learned, simple mental practice which promotes the ideals of education by directly developing the student’s consciousness – their ability to know and understand. Through this practice the student’s latent potential begins to unfold. The wide range of cognitive, psychological and physiological benefits from the practice of TM have been extensively validated by hundreds of scientific studies, conducted at more than 200 universities and research institutions around the world. The overall structure of the curriculum is to establish and build upon a secure framework of numeracy and literacy from the early years, with developing understanding of science and technology, the humanities, and the creative arts, along with integrative themes used in each subject to help to connect disparate areas of knowledge. This approach, where a potentially fragmented range of subjects is integrated through the use of common themes which are then able to be related to the student’s own self, is a key component of how CbE enhances the ‘known’ – the subjects studied by the student. This approach of integrating all subjects and then relating them to the pupil’s own life occurs in every subject and at every age, and is an important aspect of the pupil’s development. Secondary curriculum (Year 7 to Year 11) Pupils who are have been enrolled in the primary school will experience the secondary school as a continuum in both content and teaching methods. The curriculum offered by the Maharishi Free School is consistent with that offered by other state funded schools enabling pupils to transfer into the school at the start of Key Stage 3 with all the requisite skills and knowledge to allow them to access the broad curriculum. The central secondary curriculum consists of subject areas organised in four faculties: English and other languages English Language & Literature Modern Foreign Language: French Science and sport Science and Additional Science Sport and Physical Education Mathematics and ICT Mathematics ICT Humanities and arts Humanities: Geography and History Art

All pupils in years 7 to 11 take these subjects. All of these subjects, apart from sport/physical education, lead to a GCSE qualification, with English Language & Literature comprising two GCSEs and science leading to two GCSEs in Science and Additional Science. In addition to these subjects, all students practise Transcendental Meditation (TM) twice a day. This is fundamental to the Maharishi Free School curriculum. The practice provides a deep experience of Restful Alertness, which systematically enhances creativity and
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Maharishi Free School: the curriculum and organisation of learning intelligence, which in turn makes learning easier and more fulfilling. Scientific research shows that brain integration and coherence starts to be developed from the very first session of Transcendental Meditation. It is the case that some of the children in the Maharishi School will have been practising Transcendental Meditation for a year more than other children but the proven effectiveness of the technique ensures that the pupils new to the practice are not disadvantaged. All subjects include the application of the integrative themes. The integrative themes used in every subject will be new to pupils joining the School in Year 7. As these themes are just simple expressions which are easily related to the pupil’s own lives and in the world around them, they can be understood and assimilated by pupils new to them. This was the experience of the Maharishi School in Lancashire over 25 years. The complete curriculum can, therefore, be understood in this way: English Language & Literature Science and Additional Science Mathematics Art and Design Transcendental meditation Modern Foreign Language Integrative themes The practice of TM and integrative themes taught as part of lessons integrate all areas of the curriculum and enable them to be related to the experience of the student. Humanities Information & Communication Technology Physical Education

Overall this curriculum covers the key areas of languages, mathematics, sciences, humanities (Geography and History), the expressive arts, technology and physical education, together with the integrative themes and the profound experience of Restful Alertness during Transcendental Meditation. The GCSE subject areas offered in Maharishi School are similar to other schools and pupils can transfer into and out of the Maharishi School at any age having acquired the appropriate knowledge and skills. In years 7-11 the percentage of taught time given to each subject is: English Language & Literature 15% Physical & Biological Sciences 15% Mathematics 15% Art & Design 10% Modern Foreign Language 10% Humanities 20% Inf. & Communication Technology 5% Physical Education 10%

In addition to the percentages given here there are, in addition, three sessions of Transcendental Meditation each day. The sessions of Transcendental Meditation are at the beginning, middle and end of the school day for pupils in Year 7 and above. These sessions are 10 minutes at the start of school day and before the lunch break, and 13
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Maharishi Free School: the curriculum and organisation of learning minutes at the end of the school day. Balanced development is at the heart of the Maharishi School with the twice daily practice of Transcendental Meditation and the experience of restful alertness. Research has found that as a result of this practice life choices become more life supporting and behaviour is less damaging to oneself and to others. This is shown by reduced use of drugs, improvement in moral thinking, more harmonious relationships with peers and family and greater appreciation of cultural traditions. Moreover the practice of Transcendental Meditation, a state of inner silence, is at the basis of both improved student behaviour and outstanding academic results. The experience of Restful Alertness during Transcendental Meditation systematically enhances creativity and intelligence making learning easier, smoother and more fulfilling. Many peer-reviewed, published, neuro-physiological studies indicate that during this experience brain-wave activity becomes more coherent (orderly) both between brain hemispheres and from front to back. This provides a possible explanation for the subjective experiences reported of ‘clearer thinking’. This is the reason why children from all backgrounds and of all abilities will be able to successfully cope with this traditionally academic curriculum. We are confident we add value to the students’ outcomes whatever their level on entry to the school. The smaller class sizes and the smaller scale of the school overall contribute to accomplishing an increase in standards, enhancing the powerful effects of the Maharishi Free School approach. Art and Design Art and Design is chosen as part of the compulsory curriculum because it enables all students to participate fully. The GCSE examination enables students to explore and develop in the traditional areas of drawing and painting but also in photography, videography, textiles, three-dimensional studies (including sculpture), for example. This has the advantage of including all pupils regardless of their ability or opportunity outside school. Sport/Physical Education (P.E.) An important part of the school’s ethos is mind body integration which is primarily and uniquely facilitated by the practice of Transcendental Meditation. P.E. also plays this role by giving the students exercise which benefits neuro-physiological integration. English, Science and Mathematics Science and English each get a 15% timetable allocation, although two GCSE subjects are delivered in this time: Science and Additional Science; English Language and English Literature. Maths also receives a 15% timetable allocation. ICT At the Maharishi School ICT is given a 5% allocation of subject time which is sufficient for pupils to attain a full GCSE in the subject. Foreign Languages One modern foreign language is offered, French. Humanities Both History and Geography are offered to GCSE level. These courses also include time for Religious Education, in particular World Religions, and for pupils in year 10 onwards, work on careers choices.
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Maharishi Free School: the curriculum and organisation of learning Creative and expressive arts Art and Design leads to a GCSE course and allows pupils to work with fabrics, digital media and sculpture, for example. The Integrative Themes The integrative themes link approaches to gaining knowledge through the study of the simple aspects and themes that promote orderly growth throughout nature. These aspects and themes are found to be common to all areas of study and to human life. The application of these themes in all the subjects of the curriculum enable the students to relate the aspects or themes to their own experience. The result is that the object of study becomes intimate to the students and not something foreign and separate to them. Students are naturally and spontaneously more interested in their subjects and this is one reason why the Maharishi School accomplished such excellent results. The application of these themes reduces the gap between the knower and the known and this, together with the practice of TM by the students, explains why we expect children who might not normally considered to be “academic” to flourish with a traditional curriculum.

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