Something Remarkable Happened After These Troubled Grade School Students Were Taught Meditation

Source: NBC

In the heart of one of San Francisco’s poorest and most violent neighbourhoods, guns and other weaponry are no strangers to the youth.

This type of environment undoubtedly set the stage for brawls and other chaos on the Visitation Valley grade school grounds, which for the longest time had left many faculty members unsure of how to keep their students focused in the classroom, or more importantly, how to keep their students away from juvenile trouble.

“There’d be fights here 3-5 times per week. The kids see guns on a daily basis, they see all types of weaponry, they have that baggage with them” said Barry O’Driscoll to NBC news, Athletic Director at Visitation Valley School in San Francisco.

But four years ago, the San Francisco school district came across a potential answer for their issue, one that cleverly had its students look ‘inward’ for the outward solution.

It’s a pioneering program simply called ‘quiet time’, with the idea being to teach the students transcendental meditation to be practiced for 15 minutes, twice daily. The school hoped that this practice could help the students let go of the stresses of their daily lives, even if only for 15 minutes.

NBC correspondent Cynthia McFadden asked O’Driscoll what he first thought of this new tactic,

So did you buy into this in the beginning, or were you like, hold on a minute, meditation?

I thought it was a joke. I thought, this is ‘hippie’ stuff that didn’t work in the 70’s so how is it going to work  now?” O’Driscoll admitted.

But it wasn’t long until the skeptical coach was made a believer. Four years after ‘Quiet Time’ was introduced into the daily regime of the grade school students, some remarkable results were shown, including a 79% decrease in suspensions, an increase in attendance to 98.3%, and an overall increase of GPA by .4.

Today, over 1500 students and 170 staffers have been trained in transcendental meditation in four schools, including Burton High, a place once known as ‘fight school’.

These are the students at Burton High today:

Students Meditation Students Meditation2

Bill Kappenhaggen, principal at Burton High, admitted he was initially worried about taking time out of the student’s academic schedule, so he increased the school day by half an hour to make time for meditation. But his worry proved wrong, as the school has already seen a 75% decrease in suspensions, and a successful jump from the bottom of California’s academic ladder to a rightful spot in the upper middle level of achievement. 

Some of the students from Burton high explained what this new practice has done for them,

It makes you more conscious of your actions,” one female student explained.

It brings you down to that [level of] ‘calmness’,” another male said.

A young student named Tobias revealed that meditation even helped him deal with his insistent anger, “[Before this], I always wanted to fight everybody for some reason.” 

In a closing interview, McFadden asked Principal Kappenhaggen if he really thought it were possible for meditation to change the violence and stresses outside the school walls, to which he responded, “I do not, but I do believe [that it] can help change the way the [students] deal with the violence, the trauma, and the stresses of every day life.”


This is truly remarkable to see happening for so many reasons. I’m curious as to what our world would look like if we were all taught meditation from an early age? We want to hear your thoughts on this story, share with us in the comment section below!


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  1. That second to last paragraph, it CAN change life outside the schools walls. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Human Peace Project in the middle east showed that it took 1% of a population meditating to show change.

  2. I tried using art as a form of meditation in my fifth grade class, but it was only a short term thing. Students had an open ended sort of art project where they were just drawing for 15 minutes, but there had to be complete silence or New Age music, or film scores playing. They really enjoyed that quiet time. I would love to see how a long term meditation program would go.

    1. This NBC Report is on a long term program (going for four years now) and the results are very impressive. The technique of meditation used is ‘Transcendental Meditation’ and research is demonstrating that it is quite different in its principles and practice to other forms of meditation. Check out David Lynch Foundation ‘Schools Projects’. Or the main website for TM .

  3. Great article. I love this! What a huge improvement from a seemingly small practice. This goes to show the immense benefits such practices produce. Surviving circumstances of all sorts can cause reactions out of defense. I think tuning in, finding that natural, peaceful place inside, makes you more aware of your actions/reactions.

  4. I am so encouraged to hear this news and so happy the story actually got reported. I hope that other schools by example follow, even if the school may not not be so troubled as this one was, seems it would produce good fruit don’t you think? Let’s hope, let’s pray this baton gets passed on and on and on……

  5. In 6th grade my history teacher had us meditate in class when learning about buddhism. It stuck with me all my life and is the main reason I started the spiritual path that I am on now. It all began with that one day we got to meditate in class. I continue this practice today.

  6. This is such great news and an amazing program. The administrators of SF school districts are s/heroes! I practice TM (and also so some work for a TM teacher) and it has altered my life in so many healthy, grounded and calming ways. Thanks for sharing this!!

  7. I currently teach and work as a mental health specialist and a child care worker on the weekends and during the summer, at a residential mental health facility. We deal with children who are some of the most abused in Ohio. We have children who come to who have behavior that not only stems from abuse but also the environment where they live. This article hit home with me and I would like to know more about using meditation in my classroom to curb the children’s behaviors. I recently interviewed and will be starting my new teaching job in the medium and max security prisons. I would like to introduce meditation to the inmates i will be working with, I feel that meditation would help them with coping with prison life and help them control their anger and behavior. Does anyone have any ideas in how I can incorporate this into my curriculum?

  8. Karen. Before you can teach meditation you’ll need to learn the practice yourself. Begin collecting copies of articles such as this one, along with information on the benefits. You’ll need to present them to Boards of Directors and supervisors where you work.

  9. I think this is a magnificent effort to improve the consciousness of our planet. I found it interesting that the principal saw the results and felt that this could not improve the rest of the world only the schools. This is an excellent article to bring awareness of what can happen using ancient tools that allow us to be a better version of ourselves. Thank you Jeff.

  10. meditation works. as well as a clean natural diet. eating fake foods loaded with refined sugar and salt is the reason everyone is so mad. it’s not the world that is the problem… it’s each person. stop poisoning yourself!! when you eat unhealthy you are putting yourself into survival mode which makes you a greedy bastard. so that is what is wrong with everyone. don’t drink coffee, don’t drink alcohol, don’t smoke cigarettes. eat healthy.

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