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Maharishi's principles of Nyaya applied to teaching English literature: New research reveals practical benefits in the classroom
by Global Good News staff writer
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9 August 2009
The research of Dr Ria Kinzel, who recently received her PhD in Vedic Science from Maharishi University of Management (M.U.M.), USA, reveals benefits of applying the 16 principles of Nyaya, as expressed in Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita*, to the teaching of English literature at the high school level. Dr Kinzel presented her doctoral research on 1 August 2009.
Nyaya is one of the 40 aspects of Veda and the Vedic Literature, expressing the distinguishing and deciding quality of Natural Law.
The challenge Dr Kinzel faced when approaching her research was that the teaching of critical/analytical skills has become a high priority in progressive education systems, and there is no established approach to teaching these skills that includes concepts essential to Consciousness-Based Education. Her response to this challenge was the creation of a critical/analytical model based on her understanding of Maharishi's teaching of Nyaya, to be applied in a variety of ways in ninth and eleventh grade English literature classes.
Dr Kinzel established her model by first examining Maharishi's application of the 16 elements of Nyaya to the second verse of the Bhagavad-Gita. She then connected Maharishi's principles to the first book by Maharaja Adhiraj Rajaraam, First Ruler of the Global Country of World Peace—Human Physiology: Expression of Veda and the Vedic Literature—in which he explains the structure and function of Nyaya as located in the thalamus. Having integrated that information, she then created a structure for teaching English literature at the high school level.
Dr Kinzel applied these principles of Nyaya to the classroom by devising specific questions related to the subject matter, so as to create a simple and precise method of teaching. For example, when applied to the discussion of Shakespeare, Nyaya provided a firm, flexible way of directing discussion to reach a conclusion—a 'map', as Dr Kinzel described it. The map, she said, worked not only through discussion using Nyaya, but through traditional Western archetypes for analyzing literature as well. 'Nyaya doesn't exclude other approaches, but rather puts them in context,' she explained.
For the teaching of poetry in her high school classes, Dr Kinzel applied the elements of Nyaya in relation to Maharishi's Science of Creative Intelligence (SCI). This method, she reported, allowed her to be more responsive to student needs and interests. It also helped students to identify specific elements of the unifying quality of poetry, rather than summarizing poems as a means of interpretation. 'After applying the principles of Nyaya, students improved enormously during the six weeks that we did the poetry,' said Dr Kinzel.
In the study of both Shakespeare and poetry, application of Nyaya improved students' ability to make meaningful connections between the works and themselves, and to deepen their insight and understanding. In addition, the structured nature of Nyaya helped weaker students to improve, while at the same time offering strong students the chance to exercise independence and creativity in their study approach. She added that Nyaya is wonderful for the purpose of classroom management: 'Students become more interested and involved in the material, and there are very few discipline problems.'
From her classroom-based dissertation research, Dr Kinzel concluded that Maharishi's 16 principles of Nyaya, as found in his commentary on the Bhagavad-Gita, would be a useful addition to strategies already used in Consciousness-Based Education. 'Nyaya has a wonderfully integrative structure, which helps to naturally bring out the principles of SCI within any English literature material. It integrates the disciplines of semantics, logic, and philosophy. It is highly structured, but at the same time flexible, reaching from the concrete to the abstract and bringing everything together in wholeness.'
* Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on the Bhagavad-Gita: A New Translation and Commentary, Chapters 1-6, available through Maharishi University of Management Press.
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