Recently, I visited Fairfield, IA for the second time in a year. The first time we stayed at the Maharishi University of Management and mostly remained on campus. We also visited the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment (MSAE), which is a K – 12 school featuring what they call “consciousness based education.” On this second visit we spent an entire day at MSAE and so did our daughter. She just turned three a month ago, so she stayed with the preschool throughout the day, playing in the Nature Explore Classroom and in the indoor classrooms.
Meanwhile, we were getting a tour of the main part of the school, including the library, the sports facilities, the cafeteria/auditorium, the orchard, the 4,100 sq.ft. greenhouse, and the kitchen where the students cook and preserve what they grow.
We had lunch in the vegetarian cafeteria (where you may bring a lunch with meat if you wish.) The food was delicious and included fresh greens picked on campus. After lunch other parents arrived for the Open House and we had a talk with the director of the school, Dr. Richard Beall. Then had a second shorter tour into the greenhouse and we talked with a sustainable living teacher. He told us about the cob oven he is planning to build with the kids so they can cook pizza with toppings from their pizza garden!
There is more to it that the Sustainable living program, they have all the courses normal students do like Math, Sciences, English, Literature, Art. But it seems like they take everything one better. They are a college prep school so the curriculum is quite heavy. But when we talked with students, they were not at all frazzled and every one of them knew what they wanted to do after school. The seniors had all their plans sorted, they applied to and were accepted to several schools each and they all knew which ones they were attending and for what with such assurance.
So what is this place? How do they do it? And what is “consciousness based education” ? While I was speaking with Dr. Beall, I was given a book to read written by Dr. Ashley Deans, the previous director of MSAE, now a pioneer of spreading consciousness based education throughout the world, through Transcendental Meditation.
Yes, these kids practice meditation twice a day in order to allow they brains to make connections and relax. They also learn Sanskrit (the oldest known human language and the basis for all modern language) and they have a course called “The Science of Creative Intelligence.” This course is taught in some way from Preschool to Senior year. It is made up of simple principles like “Life is made of Layers,” “Order is Everywhere,” and “The Purpose of Life is to Grow.” They are taught through these principles that all the subjects they learn in school are connected to each other and also to themselves.
Of course it’s also helpful that these students live in Fairfileld, home to one of the greenest mayors in the country, an entrepreneurial center of Iowa, and also home to huge arts and technology scenes.
When driving around Fairfiled you see solar panels and Maharishi Vastu Architecture and loads of small business. it’s really a very inspiring place. Every time we go, I feel so inspired.
The book I was given “A Record of Excellence” is fantastic in describing how this lifestyle drastically increases well being. The tagline of MSAE is “Inner Development and Outer Success.” Dr. Ashley Deans talks about developing the “knower” in order to develop the known. How different is this from “information based education” that is typical of educational institutions? I believe in consciousness based education. This is not a hippy dippy thing that was invented in the sixties. It’s based in science and thousands of years of experience. It truly gives people peace of mind and it allows children to find their direction in a non-stressful way.
The website can be found at www.maharishischooliowa.com