Meditation Part Of Curriculum For Top Marks

Meditation Part Of Curriculum For Top Marks
By JENNY YUEN
Last Updated: 1st March 2009, 2:40am

This might be the most peaceful way to start the school day.

The 20 students in Ahalya Ganesh’s Grade 6 class are sitting around in a circle with a tealight candle placed in the centre. Their teacher presses ‘play’ on the CD and the daily ritual of 10 minutes of meditation begins.

“Focus your eyes on the light in front of you,” Ganesh, a teacher at Sathya Sai School, said soothingly to the class. “Think: May I always feel good, may I always speak the truth.”

After the music stops, the students are asked to reflect on what they were thinking of.

“I imagined what the world was like without pollution,” said Dhiviya Muthucumarasamy, 11. “I thought about what ways I could help the world. So I sent the light to everyone.”

The idea of peace is just one of the principal values at Sathya Sai School. The Scarborough private school of 160 students — from JK to Grade 6 — works on five core values of truth, right conduct, peace, love and non-violence, stemming from the philosophy of the school’s founder and south Indian guru, Sathya Sai Baba.

These values are embedded in regular classes, so you will find love in math and non-violence translated through science. A 40-minute “human values” class is scheduled each day where teachers and students discuss the core principles of the school. Two months are devoted to each of the five values.

Students also get 45 minutes of yoga classes in the gym each day.

This inner-peace is most likely responsible for the 100% scores on all Education Quality and Accountability Office tests in 2008 and the perfect 10 position for the second consecutive year in the Fraser Institute studies, said the school’s principal, Dr. Revathi Chennabathni.

“It’s the dedication of the students and teachers,” she said. “When we start the day with meditation, it helps them to calm down. I think the yoga and discussion in each of the classes on human values and reflection on that is adding to a better intellectual potential.”

This is the only Sathya Sai-influenced school in North America among 45 schools worldwide. It opened its doors in 2000 and has bounced from two other locations in Scarborough before landing at Ellesmere and Principal Rds.

The tuition was originally free for the first 6.5 years, but Chennabathni said it has since risen to $2,300 a year to cover renting the space. They are looking for a building of their own in the near future.

The majority of children who attend the school are of Tamil, Hindu and Sri Lankan heritage, but Chennabathni emphasizes that the school is open to all religions and all socio-economic backgrounds. They follow the Ontario curriculum with the addition of an extra holiday on Nov. 23 — the founder’s birthday. The only thing that isn’t allowed is eating meat on premises.

“The vegetarian lunch program helps them give good thoughts,” Chennabathni said.

The lessons learned in the classroom will help students translate it at home and in the community, Chennabathni said. Each month, the kids distribute sandwiches to the El Mocambo club at College St. and Spadina Ave. for the homeless.

On May 31, the pupils will go on their annual Walk for Values at Dundas Square. Instead of raising money, the goal is to pledge their commitment to one of the five values and promise to practice it for a year.

“Parents are very sure that their child would learn good values here,” Chennabathni said. “Not everyone’s a follower of our founder, but (parents send their kids here) because of the good values their child can learn and that they can build character.”

Toronto Sun Reference

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