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'Community' complains about school meditation

A schoolgirl meditates.
A schoolgirl meditates. Nicholas Falconer
EDUCATION Queensland says the community and not teachers are responsible for complaints that led to meditation classes being banned at Beerwah High School.

A spokesperson said teachers were invited to take part in a voluntary transcendental meditation program trial to access its benefits as a tool for relieving stress and potentially contributing to students’ well-being and learning outcomes.

The trial was not a response to any incident of violence and bullying at the school.

“In response to (community) concerns, the school held community information sessions in July to provide details of the program, its benefits and how the school was managing the implementation of the initiative,” the spokesperson said.

“As a result of the level of concern expressed by the Beerwah community, the principal, in consultation with the regional office, decided the meditation program would not continue at this stage.”

However, the woman who took the classes, Wendy Rosenfeldt, said teachers were responsible for the complaints and their concerns centred around religion.

“Some teachers went to the (education) department with misinformation from the internet,” she said.

“The department never contacted us about what it was actually about.”

She said TM was non-religious meditation and she hoped the program would resume once teachers were better informed.

Ms Rosenfeldt said along with helping to reduce stress and the incidence of bullying, TM improved the IQ of practitioners and led to better grades.

She said it had also proved beneficial to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and was used in schools around the world.

The school's P& C president, Sharon Vonhoff, believed the program had merely been postponed and was confident it would resume once “ill-informed” teachers were educated about TM.

“The feedback (from participants) has been absolutely positive,” Ms Vonhoff said.

“They're very, very happy - it's been totally beneficial.”

Some 35 teachers at the school were being taught TM, reported to be the most widely researched and one of the most popular meditation techniques, with some five million practitioners worldwide.

With what is understood to be the enthusiastic backing of the school's principal, Iqbal Singh, the program was to involve Year 9 students.

It was hoped the bulk of students would continue mediating until the end of Year 12 and beyond.

The TM group conducting the program wanted to produce a research paper on the exercise which it hoped could be used to entice other schools to introduce it.

Teachers from all grades were invited to take part in the program, which would not have cost Education Queensland a cent as it would mainly be funded by US-based TM organisation the David Lynch Foundation - named after its legendary filmmaker founder.

News of the program's demise came as the Daily learned of numerous complaints by parents to the school about their children being bullied.

In April, the Daily reported that images of students viciously bashing each other had surfaced on the video-sharing website YouTube.

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