knowledge is structured in consciousness
IN THIS SECTION
Maharishi Free School: The Curriculum & Organisation of Learning
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 Consciousness-based 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.
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.
Primary curriculum (Reception to Year 6)
The purpose of the Maharishi Free School’s primary curriculum is to create the stable foundation for all future learning and educational success. This curriculum is designed to enliven the children’s experience of inner happiness and self-confidence, enrich their imagination and provide varied opportunities for positive social interaction. The teachers carefully select those learning materials and activities that refine and enliven the five senses in the context of a rich curriculum. A special emphasis in the primary curriculum is the establishment of the tender bond between the teachers and children which nourishes the young children in their first school experience. On this basis the child’s receptivity to learning is established.
The different subject areas with the percentage and amount of time allocated to them are shown below. These tables are used to construct timetables for each year group. The overall aim of the Maharishi School is to provide a broad, balanced and integrated curriculum from the Reception class to Year 11. This breadth and balance is essential for the pupils to fully realise ‘the world is my family’, a key principle of the Maharishi Free School included in the vision. In order to access the content of subjects in the later primary and secondary years, pupils need to develop an appropriate set of skills. These skills are developed at all levels of the school but form a particular focus in the primary years.
The subject areas taught are as follows: English, mathematics, science and technology, ICT, history, geography, music, art, and PE. Integrative themes are used in all subjects.
A table showing the percentage allocation of teaching time to each subject during each primary school year is below. Over 50% of the curriculum is dedicated to English and mathematics, with more English than maths in the earlier years. The timetables in the next section illustrate how the allocation is made.
|Reception||Years 1 & 2||Years 3 & 4||Years 5 & 6|
|Science & Technology||11||11||11||11|
|Art & Design||8||8||8||6|
The allocations reflect the balance of both curriculum content and skills that the pupils will progress through while at the Maharishi Free School. In the earlier years the balance of the curriculum and timetable reflects the need to establish numeracy and literacy skills which progressively includes more subject content as they move through the primary years.
Where a subject delivers a large number of skills, for example English, the amount of time allocated in the timetable differs due to this.
In practice there is a lot of cross-curriculum work within the subject strands, with literacy and numeracy taken across the curriculum as far as possible. In the same vein, some of the themes in English will cover other areas such as humanities and the world we live in, and drama will also feature where appropriate. We ensure that in all subject slots there is a balance of activity; for example listening, speaking, reading, writing and comprehension in English.
Integrative themes such as “growth is an aspect of life” are explored within every subject in settings familiar to the children from the earliest years. This approach provides organising principles to allow pupils to make better sense of what they learn and who they are. 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 explains why we expect children who might not normally considered to be “academic” to flourish with a traditional curriculum.
In the earlier years, some of the subject areas are less distinct, with knowledge and understanding of the world and continuous provision timetabled to give more flexibility. Continuous provision refers to the provision of a range of activities around the classroom – painting, construction, toys etcetera – which the children can choose and participate in for as long as they like.
In the Reception Class, children will be encouraged to be independent learners and to experience achievement, enabling them to grow in confidence and gain an enjoyment of learning. On entry, the Reception teacher will focus on identifying all children’s specific strengths and needs. The curriculum will be flexible to incorporate individual learning needs and interests. Their progress will be monitored and the skills taught will be differentiated as necessary. Children will be encouraged to enjoy reading, be introduced to early phonics to support early reading and writing skills. Opportunities for developing literacy and mathematical skills will be encouraged through planned play opportunities. Assessment will be in line with Government requirements, currently against the Foundation Stage Profile. Currently the national curriculum for the Foundation Stage is under review. The school will follow the recommendations of the new curriculum when it is available.
As children move into Year 1, they will build on the early skills that were introduced in the Reception Class. They will experience a more structured approach to the teaching of reading and writing, developing their ability to use blending and segmenting when reading and writing new words. The informal learning in mathematics will begin to become established, with children encouraged to record their work. There are daily lessons that focus on the teaching of communication, reading, writing and mathematics. Subjects such as geography are taught across the curriculum, enabling children to form links between their learning and to practise literacy and mathematical skills in different contexts. For example, children will use mathematics to support investigations in science and problem solving activities. In Year 2, children will continue to develop these skills, enabling them to be confident readers and writers, and skilled in using mathematics in simple problem solving activities. By the end of Key Stage 1, children have experienced a broad and balanced curriculum. There is an emphasis on ensuring that basic skills are taught in communication, reading, writing and mathematics which will provide a firm foundation as children move into Key Stage 2. Teachers will regularly assess children’s progress and attainment is closely monitored by the Deputy Head. For children who appear to be making insufficient progress, systems are in place to identify and support such children. Teacher assessments are used to inform Year 3 teachers of the attainment of all the children.
In Key Stage 2, the children will begin to experience subjects taught in greater depth. Themes are used to develop cross-curricular learning, extending their learning and developing skills. Daily lessons are taught which focus on English and Mathematics. The Foundation subjects, such as Science and Technology, Geography, History, Art, Music, PE are taught throughout the week as shown in sample timetables in Section D2 below. ICT skills are timetabled to be taught but teachers will ensure that ICT skills are also used within other subjects to enhance their learning. There is tracking of children’s progress across Key Stage 2, ensuring that not only the lower attainers make good progress but also that more able children are challenged in their learning to reach their highest potential. All teachers will be aware of the standards required for children at the end of Key Stage 2 and the statutory obligation of national assessments for this age group.
The Primary Curriculum is currently under review nationally and when it is available, the recommendations will be incorporated into weekly planning. Lessons in all Key Stages will take into account the different levels of ability of the children and be differentiated appropriately. Understanding that all children are individuals and have their own styles of learning, teachers will ensure that lessons incorporate elements of visual, kinaesthetic and auditory elements to motivate all children.
The inclusion of the practice of Word of Wisdom and the use of integrative themes are a fundamental experience which will enable all pupils, regardless of their starting ability, to make good progress. The teaching and support staff, as practitioners of Transcendental Meditation, will all be able to ensure that all lessons are natural, effortless and enjoyable for the children. It is widely understood that unless children are feeling secure, happy and self-assured, their learning and mastering of skills will not flourish.
Until children reach the age of 10 they practise the Word of Wisdom technique for five minutes at the beginning and end of each school day. It strengthens and integrates their nervous system and develops greater orderliness, creativity and intelligence in their thinking and behaviour. Word of Wisdom is done silently and with eyes open while walking, either around the classroom, school or outside in the school grounds when the weather is fine. The regular practice of Word of Wisdom cultures the nervous system of the pupil and is an ideal preparation for learning Transcendental Meditation. Once children reach the age of 10 (in year 6) they can learn practise Transcendental Meditation instead of the Word of Wisdom.