A documentary about an unusual school in southeast Iowa will make its debut next week in the town where it was filmed. "School of Thought" focuses on the Maharishi School of the Age of Enlightenment in Fairfield. Colorado-based filmmaker Tony Perri says a famed Hollywood director, known for movies like "Blue Velvet" and the TV show "Twin Peaks," is featured prominently in Perri’s documentary.
Perri says, "David Lynch is our not-quite tour guide but he’s one of the main spokespeople and Dr. John Hagelin, renown quantum physicist, they talk about transcendental meditation, but the highlight are the students, both the young kids, as young as seven or eight years old…up to university age."
The school offers what’s called consciousness-based education from preschool through 12th grade. Perri says the students at the Fairfield institution are unlike any he’s encountered elsewhere, saying they’re brimming with confidence, compassion and intelligence.
"They are what makes this film stand out, just listening to them, looking in their eyes," Perri says. "I really made a conscious effort to get some good close-ups and be able to see their eyes when they talk. They really make this film wonderful and make it work." The documentary details some of the unique aspects of the school’s attributes, including how all students meditate once in the morning and again in the afternoon.
Perri says, "I believe in what I’ve seen in that it really is the meditation that they do twice a day that sets them apart. They win athletic championships all over the state and country, academic championships." The school’s website boasts that its students consistently score in the top one-percent of the nation on standardized tests, while the school has more than ten times the national average of National Merit Scholar finalists.