New school in bid to calm troubled teens

A new school set to open next year will see a group of budding yogis exploring the benefits of meditation as part of its curriculum.

Stress-free Schools New Zealand, which boasts famous sportswoman Allison Roe on its advisory board, is determined to bring transcendental meditation into the classroom to calm anxious and troublesome teens.

It is looking to open its first school in Auckland early next year.

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“We are going to look for land next week and by the beginning of next year we hope to have our programme implemented in New Zealand,” said organisation executive director Martin Jelly.

Transcendental meditation promotes deep relaxation through the use of a mantra, and is favoured by top sportspeople like Roe and Black Caps cricket coach John Bracewell.

The school will make its “consciousness-based” education available to an initial 200 fee- paying pupils, with the group hoping to also open a facility in Christchurch.

Englishman Dr Ashley Deans, who heads the board of advisers, visited New Zealand last week to promote “consciousness-based” learning.

“The New Zealand Ministry of Education has expressed interest in the programme.

Everybody has realised that we have the answer to problems that they can’t solve, like teens in gangs, bullying and alcohol abuse,” he told the Sunday Star-Times.

“I talk to educators, they all tell me that stress is the biggest problem facing them today.”

The structure of the school day would be loosely based on the New Zealand curriculum with meditation sessions in the morning and afternoon.

The ministry said any new school would have to follow the curriculum set by the government regardless of any meditation sessions.

“We have no issue with whether or not they fit meditation sessions into the school day,” said a spokesperson.

“As long as they adhere to the basic tenets of the curriculum, they can implement their programme.”

However Avondale College principal Brent Lewis is sceptical.

“Every day I have people coming to me and trying to sell me the silver bullet that will solve all the problems that educators have. But I do think it is good that they are willing to open a school and put themselves on the line to prove whether this sort of thing works.”

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