Education through meditation: the future of learning

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Michelle Ferguson
August 20, 2019

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In April, SingularityU Canada brought two days of forwarding thinking to Edmonton at its Canada Summit. Some of the brightest minds in the world presented a vision for the future that embraced exponential technologies — from artificial intelligence to cellular agriculture to blockchain.

To help you navigate the rapidly changing world, we are summarizing some of that forward-thinking for easy consumption.

In Dr. Taddy Blecher’s presentation, Moonshots in Education, he explored the future of education. CEO of the Maharishi Institute, a non-profit organisation that has established several free-access institutions of higher learning, and a SingularityU South Africa faculty member, Dr. Blecher re-imagines the education system so that it serves all of humanity — not just a select few individuals.

Moonshots in Education — Dr. Taddy Blecher

  • Mass personalization is the key to the future of education.
  • Traditional education is content dominant and exam driven. Students are told what to think, rather than taught how to think. Traditional education also does not support individualization or self-actualization.
  • This industrial revolution-based system from the 19th century is good for training robots (the human kind) to repeat menial tasks, but is no longer relevant on the cusp of the AI revolution.
    • According to Ray Kurzweil, co-founder of SingularityU, artificial intelligence will have human capabilities by 2029. By 2045, AI will surpass human capabilities by a billion.
    • The Royal Bank of Canada, in a report titled Humans Wanted, predicts that 25 per cent of Canadian jobs will be lost to automation within 10 years.
  • Traditional education is also expensive and elitist. It perpetuates rising levels of inequality by assuming that some individuals are better than others.
  • Education should focus on developing the full potential of each individual regardless of background or assets.
If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. If you want 10 years of prosperity, grow trees. If you want 100 years of prosperity, grow people.
Chinese proverb

Three keys to the future of education

1 Treating students as whole persons

The education system needs to look beyond intellect. By turning Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs on its head and focusing on developing self-esteem and sense of purpose, educators can help remove barriers to education, such as depression, PTSD or ADHD.

2 Developing the brain through meditation

The average human brain 100 billion neurons. Each of these neurons and capable of creating 10,000 connections. But we don’t use our brain’s full capacity. Meditation has been shown to increase gray matter in the brain after just eight weeks and is currently being used by 80 per cent of the top CEOs in the U.S.

3 Achieving mass personalization through tech

We are individuals and we all learn differently. Tech such as AI and VR will help personalize education to meet individual learning needs and preferences. It will also allow more people to access some of the world’s best educators and resources.

Case study — The Maharishi Institute in South Africa

The Maharishi Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa is a free-access university that combines academic learning with transcendental meditation.

The revolutionary university recruits dropouts, street kids and individuals with gang affiliations/drug abuse, and focuses on building their self-esteem and sense of purpose, in addition to their intellect and practical work skills.

Accenture, one of the top consulting firms in the world, has employed 180 Maharishi graduates in the past four years. Maharishi graduates also hold 11 senior leadership positions at Absa Capital, one of the largest banks in South Africa.

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