And how Taddy Blecher’s experience with Transcendental Meditation led to a Digital Revolution for SA Education
Jessica Hubbard, Deputy Editor; 30 March 16
At a recent Heavy Chef event held in Johannesburg, Dr Taddy Blecher, a pioneer of the free higher education movement in SA, spoke about how his chance encounter with Transcendental Meditation spurred him to drive a digital revolution in local education. Blecher, who now heads up the Maharishi Institute, explained to Adlip how education is changing, and how ‘mass personalisation’ should drive future learning…
“The future of education is around this concept of mass personalisation, which is about education getting down to the level of every individual (their wants, needs, skills, abilities, talent, etc)…and education does not do that today.”
In his view, with huge class numbers and overworked teachers, children in classes are at different levels.
“So we all go through this old fashioned, traditional schooling system that really never talks to any of us,” adds Blecher.
As a result, many kids get very little from education, he says, which ultimately sets them back for life.
“The revolution that’s happening in education is both the Digital revolution (allowing individuals to learn at their own pace), and then also looking at methodologies to wake up the individual,” he explains. “The current education system is a total mismatch – it’s not really teaching people how to think or create or anything else that people need to be successful in the 21st century…”
Blecher uses himself as a classic example of this. As an actuarial science student at Wits University, he barely scraped through his first three years of the degree – failing exams along the way. At some point, his mom was diagnosed with liver cancer, and was only given three months to live.
“She completely cured herself…she turned to alternative [treatments]. Everything the doctors told her to do, she didn’t do,” he says.
One thing Blecher picked up from this was the art of meditation, which he says transformed how his mind worked.
“I went from not being able to concentrate at all, to being able to study for 14 hours on end,” he explains. “My mind was alive…”
He went on to take the rest of his actuarial exams (taking six in one year, which was unheard of), passed them all, and even got the top Honours mark in the country.
“My professor came to me and said: how did an idiot like you become an actuary?”
Blecher notes that the experience is part of why he stayed in the country.
“I realised that there are other kids out there for whom education just doesn’t talk to them…it loses everybody. So how do we revolutionise education, so that it can talk to everybody? Everybody is walking around with a mind, and they do not have the key to unlock their potential…”