JSS 2.1

Past News

JSS 2.1 Spiritual Education:
A Teacher Development Initiative

by Dr Bernadette Flanagan, Dublin City University, Republic of Ireland, Dr James Nelson, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, & Ms Aiveen Mullally, Trinity College Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Journal for the Study of Spirituality 2, no. 1, 2012, pp. 61-76

There has been much discussion of the growing need for spiritual education in school settings, but less investigation of the form and shape that such a practice might take. This article begins by recalling Hannan Alexander and Terence McLaughlin’s distinction between religiously ‘tethered’ and ‘untethered’ spirituality, but it then eschews these distinctions in favour of an anthropological, inclusive approach. The research question then focuses on the challenges and opportunities for introducing practices such as sensory awareness exercises, reflective practices or mindfulness meditation in educational settings in Ireland, North and South. Given the observation of Brenda Watson and Penelope Thompson that the disposition of the teacher is fundamental to the spirit of a subject, we focused the investigation on the experiences of teachers who undertook training in spiritual practices and then reflectively engaged with these practices in a classroom setting. The primary instrument of data collection was a ‘journal of contemplative practices’, which had an ordered structure in order to facilitate the collection of comparable data from the different sites involved. While interesting findings emerged from the 50 per cent of journals that were completed, questions did arise regarding the sites where the project was not completed. The reluctance of some teachers to implement the practices suggested that further work regarding the cultural sensitivities and pedagogical foundations for such practices needs to be undertaken.

To read the full article, click here.