Wednesday, 13 April 2011
Ten Essex infant and junior schools are trialling meditation techniques. The hour-long classes - which teach children 'how to find their own space' - are funded by a £20,000 government grant. Why it's necessary to have extra funding beats me, because most people, after a few simple lessons, can teach meditation techniques. Even me.
Why do I feel so confident when I've never undertaken any formal training? Because I was taught relaxation/meditation/yoga techniques in primary school back in the 1950s. In those days there were no fancy titles to our 'quiet time' which was part of every day school life.
We didn't have professionals visit, we had teachers who understood children and childhood and were determined to do their very best for us. Teaching was a vocation and these innovative women knew that children required 'wind down' time.
Fifty-five years later I still vividly recall these pauses in our hectic school day. The ten minutes of quiet time occurred during any part of the day with the timing at the discretion of the teacher. We would either lie on the floor and imagine we were floating; sit on our chairs with arms limp at our sides and chins on chests while we 'emptied our minds to make room for more thoughts' or we rested our heads on our arms while we concentrated on music which usually involved the sound of the sea or tinkling bells. The music was barely audible - a clever ploy. Apart from the records and a record player there were no props as none was needed. No floor mats in those days.
When we reached secondary school quiet time disappeared and was very much missed by those of us who had been privileged to have learnt the skills it involved.
So well done Essex. Maybe some Scottish schools will reinstate 'quiet time'. It doesn't have to be an hour or a professional yoga class: with regular training ten minutes is enough for anyone to recharge their batteries.
I well remember the teachers' whispered mantra: "I must be able to hear a pin drop." Possibly a difficult achievement these days now that discipline is much more relaxed but it could be done. It would certainly be of great benefit to our young ones.