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Innovative environmental education at Maharishi School
by Global Good News staff writer
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18 November 2009
Nurturing a child's love for Nature comes from lots of outdoor play, along with practising the Transcendental Meditation Technique and experiencing the home of all the Laws of Nature, says Dr Richard Beall, Principal of Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment. The school, located in Fairfield, Iowa, USA, is a leader in Consciousness-Based Education, and offers outstanding academic programmes for preschool through high school. Dr Beall spoke recently about the school's innovative environmental education programmes.* Please see Part I.
Evidence shows that children who have regular exposure to Nature are happier and have better cognitive development, attention span, social skills, and other health benefits, said Dr Beall, referring to the work of Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder. Dr Beall emphasized that unstructured play and exploration are important.
Edible gardens and fruit trees are part of the learning experience at Maharishi School. On the school grounds is a 4,100 square foot (381 square metre) greenhouse with a rain catchment system. A solar-powered pump feeds a drip irrigation system. A second solar panel directs energy to the electrical grid, reducing the School's energy consumption.
Students prepare garden beds, harvest food, and build composting bins, aerators, and more. At the annual Greenfest, a festival which is also a fundraiser for the School, students participate in eco-projects. Recently, older students painted a mural depicting plants and animals for the preschoolers' new Nature Explore Classroom. (Maharishi School received a grant for the innovative programme, designed by the Arbor Society, which will be a resource for environmental education in Southeast Iowa. See Maharishi Preschool builds Nature Explore Classroom.)
Completing the cycle, the children enjoy eating the food they have grown. One class built solar ovens, and used them to cook apple cobbler and vegetarian hot dogs. Another class planted a tea and herb garden, and then hosted a Mother's Day tea party.
Maharishi School is part of a community that is focused on sustainable living practices. Fairfield's Mayor, Ed Malloy, honoured earlier this year as one of the nation's 14 'greenest mayors', guided the development of the town's Go Green strategic plan. Maharishi University of Management, whose campus adjoins Maharishi School's, is a leader in environmental education, green building, and sustainability.
As he spoke, Dr Beall showed videos and photographs, evidence of the students' joy and vitality: boys smearing their faces with purple berries while preparing the greenhouse for winter; a group of girls enthusiastically scooping handfuls of worms in a vermicomposting bin.
Dr Beall summed it up by quoting a passage from The Science of Being and Art of Living, by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi—Founder of the Transcendental Meditation Programme and the Global Country of World Peace: 'To be established in Being means to be established in contentment, intelligence, and creativity, while in harmony with all the Laws of Nature.'
* Dr Beall's report was featured on the 26 October 2009 Maharishi Global Family Chat, which is broadcast daily via Internet webcast on the Maharishi Channel, Channel 3. Podcasts of the daily Global Family Chat (audio track) are also available for automatic download, via an RSS feed.
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