Paul as academy sponsor: will it be?

24th April 2009 at 01:00
Former Beatle invited to back what would be Transcendental Meditation UK `first'

Paul McCartney once famously complained that he didn't care too much for money because it couldn't buy him love. But what it could get him is sponsorship of an academy.

The former Beatle, one of the world's most famous advocates of Transcendental Meditation, is to be approached as the potential sponsor of the country's first academy specialising in the technique.

He played a benefit concert earlier this month to raise funds for the teaching of meditation to one million children and said he wanted to see it become a standard part of the school curriculum.

Now, Derek Cassells, headteacher of the private Maharishi School in Ormskirk, Lancashire, the only specialist TM school in the country, is to ask Sir Paul for his help with plans to transform it into an academy.

"We will approach him and are very hopeful that we will win his support," said Mr Cassells.

"We are only 15 miles from Liverpool and are keen to work with schools in the city."

All pupils at the school meditate for 10 minutes twice a day and Mr Cassells said the technique created a "neurological balance" that led to improved intelligence, creativity and behaviour.

The benefit concert in aid of TM in New York this month was organised by the film director David Lynch, another famous supporter of the technique.

His foundation has provided millions of dollars to train teachers and pupils to meditate in America.

Speaking before the concert, Sir Paul said he believed that meditation in schools could become commonplace and backed its widespread use. "It's a lifelong gift that we can call on any time," he said.

"Allowing children to experience something that they wouldn't have been able to otherwise is a great thing."

Mr Cassells' planned appeal to Sir Paul comes as a leading American advocate of TM is visiting England to hold a series of seminars at the Institute of Education, Cambridge University, and Guy's, King's and St Thomas's School of Medicine in London.

Fred Travis, director of the centre for brain, consciousness and cognition at Maharishi University of Management in Iowa, where all students practise TM, told The TES that teaching children the technique improved exam results and behaviour.

Meditation changes the way the brain works, making pupils more resilient to stress and better at forming relationships with fellow students, he said.

"You can understand the brain as the interface between the teacher and the student," said Dr Travis, who recently published research claiming that TM had helped improve the grades of university students.

"Brain state is important for learning. Under stress, the brain is not in a situation to take in information.

"TM helps to buffer the stress and develop the integrated functioning of the brain," he said.

Dylan Wiliam, deputy director of the Institute of Education, has said there was a certain amount of "hype" around TM, but added that encouraging children to be calm could help their learning.

He added that research was needed to "distinguish the hype from the active ingredient".

Dr Travis's seminars can be booked at

Maharishi meeting

Transcendental meditation was spread by the teaching of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who started a worldwide movement to promote the technique in 1957. It is usually practised for 20 minutes twice a day, with participants sitting quietly with their eyes closed. Paul McCartney (pictured), along with the other Beatles, first met the Maharishi in 1967.


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