Should students meditate?

Should students meditate?

Maddie Dailey, Staff Writer

Here at Monte Vista the halls are constantly echoing with complaints about not enough sleep and too much stress. Could meditation solve our problems?

It is typical for teens in our generation to have altered sleep patterns, usually not for the better.

“Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best,” the National Sleep Foundation said in an official statement.  “Most teens do not get enough sleep — one study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights.”

With the combination of school work, keeping up with social media, dealing with the pressure of getting into college, and facing any issues with peers, it is no wonder that we get really stressed out.

“I even find myself more distractible with all of the time spent on tablets and iphones and always having it at your side,” Monte Vista English teacher Christy Brown said.

One school district in San Francisco is taking 30 minutes of their school day to meditate to help students find ways to deal with stress.

The San Francisco Public School District has turned their schools around all due to two 15 minute sessions a day of meditating.  Staff members have been trained in meditation and how to help the students practice the art.

The district partnered with an organization, The Center for Wellness and Education, to help institute this program, giving it the name of “quiet time.” It has been instituted in four of the schools in its district, including Burton High School.

Burton High was once referred to as “fight school” due to the constant violence in the school and general area.  It is located in one of San Francisco’s poorest communities, and it is common for students to catch glimpses of frightening occurrences in or out of school.

“The kids see guns on a daily basis,” an athletic director at the nearby middle school Barry O’Driscoll said. “There would be fights here three-to-five times a week.”

In an effort to at least change their in-school experience, 30 minutes has been added to the typical school day to allow students to learn how to cope with the stress and the violence they often encounter.

Just those few minutes have caused noticeable improvements in the school’s statistics.  It has caused a 75% decrease in suspensions and many students say they are calmer and happier.  It also has led to a jump from the bottom of California’s academic rankings to the higher middle levels.

The opportunity for students at those schools in San Francisco to meditate provides time for kids to relax their minds and get away from anything that may be bothering them.

“I feel like [the use of devices] is causing people to lose focus in all areas of life and I think that meditation can help students gain that focus back,” Mrs. Brown said.

Teachers at the school did not have a problem shortening or lengthening their schedules to help their students with relaxation.  Shari Rodriguez, a PE teacher at Castro Valley High school, agrees.

“I don’t think kids being quiet from within themselves and not on their phones would be a bad thing,” Mrs. Rodriguez said.  “I would not have a problem with shortening classes.”

Perhaps our school could implement a similar system to better help the students deal with their busy lives.  Although the demographics of Danville are much different than those of San Francisco, we have some issues of our own.  Could this program be spun to fit the needs of our school?

Mrs. Brown has implemented a session of guided meditation every Monday in her own class.

“We focus on our posture first,” Mrs. Brown said.  “The reason I do that is because kids tend to think it is an opportunity to fall asleep.  It also opens up the chest cavity and have deeper breaths.  And then I talk them through getting in touch with their senses.  Sometimes I have them do a body scan where I’ll take them through the tip of their head to their toes and noticing if there is any tension and letting it go.”

Mrs. Brown says that if a similar system to advisory tuesdays was introduced for meditation, she believes other teachers would be accepting of it.  That way it wouldn’t take class time out of everyday and meditation would still be kept in a routine each week.