Crime Lab New York Can Meditation in Schools Increase Student Bandwith?

In cities across the country, too many young people are growing up in poverty and in neighborhoods plagued by violence. These young people are exposed to persistent stress and trauma, with no opportunity to reset their brains and bodies. Research has shown that this type of constant, toxic stress can cause permanent damage to brain structure and function, in particular diminishing the ability to pay attention and make good decisions. With trauma consuming the focus of so many young people, how are they supposed to go to school and be ready to learn?

Crime and Education Lab New York is partnering with the David Lynch Foundation to implement one of the lowest cost mental health intervention imaginable—meditation. The Quiet Time program provides students with training and time to practice meditation, for two 15-minute periods every day, with the goal of increasing students’ cognitive bandwidth and their ability to focus and learn. This program was introduced and evaluated in the Chicago Public Schools, with promising results. Now Quiet Time is being expanded to New York City, and Crime and Education Lab’s randomized evaluation aims to generate rigorous evidence about the potential of mediation to support students and improve outcomes in America’s largest city.