In times of distance learning, during which the load of stress has unquestionably increased for all school components, an innovative study opens up new ways, if not to possible solutions, at least to try to stem thorny problems related to the education system. This is the report on the results of the FRIENDS Project, entitled “A Novel Approach to the Implementation of Inclusive Education” and written by Frans Van Assche (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, BE) and other researchers.
The project, which started in 2018 and was coordinated by Fabrizio Boldrini (Hallgarten-Franchetti Foundation), was launched as an operational response to a call from the European Commission aimed to promote good practices of inclusive teaching.
The research, in which 13 partners partecipated, was based on the introduction, in the curriculum, of the “Quiet Time Based on Transcendental Meditation Programme for Schools (QT/TM)” prescribing the practice, for 10-15 minutes, at the beginning and at the end of the school day, of the technique of Transcendental Meditation (TM), whose effectiveness in reducing stress and anxiety has been documented for years through numerous scientific researches.
The report presents in detail the experiences of the project implementation in schools in four countries (Belgium, Italy, Portugal and UK) and the results of a study that made use of both qualitative and quantitative methods. In addition to 1800 students (mostly attending primary schools), 900 teachers, technicians and auxiliaries from institutions as well as 200 parents, who were trained in the programme, have been involved. The monitored schools welcome a large audience of students of foreign origin or belonging to ethnic minorities and, at the same time, students penalized by factors of social disadvantage.
In particular, in Italy the institutes that have been examined by researchers are located in the northern area (Brescia, Milan and Bolzano), where the project implementation has also been extended to a prison. In the United Kingdom a significant aspect of the implementation has been the involvement of more than seven Alternative Provision Schools (APS) situated in Lancashire, Stoke on Trent, Liverpool and Essex.
Among the positive results of the survey there is an evident improvement of the students in terms of “sense of well-being” – indispensable element for a profitable learning -, of school profit and also a reduction in dropout rate. Similarly, teachers, technicians and auxiliaries have expressed a higher sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, greater subjective vitality, better emotional balance, lower levels of stress and anxiety. All these results were discussed last October 15 in an online conference entitled “Erasmusdays 2020: Well-being in Education for a Resilient Society“.
This is the first large-scale research in Europe on the effects of TM in primary schools and it is possible that it will open up new horizons for targeted and inclusive educational interventions.
For further information, visit the website: https://friends-project.eu