Stichting Kind en Spiritualiteit Issue 4
Soul to Soul A journal for practitioners and researchers interested in all aspects of children’s spirituality
Editorial This week my next-door neighbour came to collect some picture books. She was on leave from her work with Médecins sans Frontières and will soon return to her hospital in a war-ridden place with an extra suitcase full of children’s books in French and Swahili. Books can do so much for children: they can nourish them, comfort them, and broaden their horizon. Children meet characters in books that help them become more empathic or more resilient. And of course, books can give simple moments of joy and wonder. What a great thing for a doctor to do: bring children’s books. Two articles in this issue of Soul to Soul speak of the spiritual impact of children’s books. One is about research, the other a personal story. They look at children’s books from various perspectives: those of personal childhood memories, of teacher, of researcher. Together they help us understand better what books can do for the spiritual development of children. Other articles in this issue, too, are rooted in both theory and research, and a wealth of personal experience. That is exactly what ‘Soul to Soul’ is about. If you have a special story to share about a children’s book that was important to you as a child, a parent, teacher, or caregiver, do write to us. We plan to publish a feature about a children’s book in each issue of Soul to Soul. We hope you enjoy this fourth issue, and we hope you will let us know what you found helpful or thought-provoking. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org Liesbeth Vroemen
Soul to Soul Soul to Soul is an online journal about children’s spirituality. We offer a space to researchers and practitioners to explore different aspects of children’s and young people’s spirituality, share ideas and learn from each other. Soul to Soul builds a bridge between the worlds of practitioners and researchers, and creates a forum for reflection and interaction between people from different professional and cultural backgrounds. Soul to Soul enables readers to access current research and learn about important developments surrounding children’s and young people’s spirituality. To do this we publish articles, book reviews, interviews and information about appropriate events and professional development. Soul to Soul also enables children’s voices to be explored and represented in relation to their spiritual development.
Soul to Soul appears twice a year, in May and November. It is made by an international team of editors, in partnership with the Dutch Stichting Kind en Spiritualiteit. The team meets several times per year, online or physically. Proposals for articles or other contributions can be submitted to any of the editors, who will discuss these proposals in their meeting. All contributions are peer reviewed.
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Feature: Amy Chapman with Wendy Woods, Arlène E. Casimir, and Lisa Miller
Spirituality Mind Body Institute, Teachers College, Columbia University
Spirituality in the Classroom It starts with emotions
Spirituality in the Classroom It Starts with Emotions Amy L. Chapman, Wendy Woods, Arlène E. Casimir, and Lisa Miller (Spirituality Mind Body Institute, Teachers College, Columbia University)
Introduction “It starts with emotions.” Emotions, behaviour, thoughts, and spirit are all connected, and it is these aspects that make up a whole person. When children are unable to regulate their emotions and communicate what they are feeling, they will use their behaviour as a form of communication.
“we first must acknowledge that every child is born a spiritual being” When looking at the classroom setting, some teachers address children's behaviour by focusing only on the behaviour itself. However, they miss seeing other components of the whole child that allows us to understand what they are trying to communicate through their behaviour. Often, behaviour is an attempt to communicate emotions, and when we do not listen to what children are communicating, we are not honouring their spiritual selves. In order to help teachers in supporting children’s holistic development, we first must acknowledge that every child is born a spiritual being. Addressing the whole child from a spiritual perspective involves encouraging children to become aware of their present emotions. Since young children may not be fully capable of expressing how they are feeling at all times, they can sometimes use their behaviour as a form of communication, and this can speak volumes about how they are handling and identifying their emotions. Making spirituality a daily classroom practice might be an effective way to support the development of the whole child. The whole child refers to the child’s cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development. We have seen that schools, with intention and attention, can deliberately design a culture which allows each child to access their deep inner spiritual core and to bring that out into the world. We believe that spiritual and emotional development are intertwined; by nurturing children’s spirituality, they
will be better able to communicate their emotions, and their behaviours will parallel that. We have conducted extensive observations of classrooms and informal school spaces, as well as interviews with faculty, administrators, staff, students, and parents, in order to discover how teachers are incorporating spirituality in the classroom setting. As one teacher from our interviews put it: “[The children’s] behaviour speaks volumes and it’s sort of what are they trying to communicate here, right? What’s going on?” We need to listen to what our children’s behaviours are saying about their emotions, and attending to their holistic, spiritual selves is the way to do that.
Spiritual Practices Teachers Use to Support Emotional Regulation Kelly at Opal School introduced something known as the dragon breath to her young students: “So with the dragon breath, you’re breathing in these various colours of how you’re feeling, [and you’re] breathing out this continuous fire. So you’re processing through your feelings and… taking all that energy and just letting it go.” Kelly explains that sometimes she uses the rainbow as a guide, and she has the students breathe in and release each colour from the rainbow. If the opportunity arises to get more specific with it, she might ask the children how they are feeling in the moment, and then ask them what colour they feel with that emotion. The children then breathe in the colour they are feeling, and then that emotion gets released. In doing this, the children are connecting themselves to the present and becoming aware of their bodies in an understandable way. Chris at Villa Magdalene implements a similar strategy using colours: “What should you do if you’re in the blue zone? Talk to someone, play with a friend, go outside and run. If you’re in the green zone you can do these other things. If you’re in the red zone, you’re really at the worst level. Quietly stomp your feet...hug or talk to someone. Count to 10 slowly, deep breaths.” These two examples of responding to students’ emotions from a spiritually grounded place can be done in a variety of ways. Different ways of
implementing the dragon breath and the zone strategy:
Have the children perform a body scan after the end of each lesson, where they can identify their zone in a private manner. Children can talk to a classmate about the zone they are in, or could physically move a sticker on the classroom zone chart.
Teachers might choose to introduce the dragon breath in younger grades, and then use the zone strategy in older grades.
Teachers might instead choose to use both of these practices side by side. Perhaps the dragon breath is used to start and end the day, and the zone strategy is used between transitions.
Teachers might use these strategies at different times of the day; the dragon breath might be used for transitions, while the zone strategy could be implemented during lunch time.
Addressing emotional regulation by using these practices allows children to slow down, check in with how they are feeling, and thus go about their day with a more present and aware attitude. Bringing the attention back to emotions means we are seeing the whole child as an integrated being and caring about that child in a transformative way. Inviting children to affirm the emotions they are experiencing by engaging their innate spirituality allows them to feel seen and understood. Jordan, a physical education teacher from the Opal School, uses an approach that highlights addressing children’s personal needs before expecting anything else from them: “Before PE class, he always says take care of your personal needs… a personal need could be you need some water, you need to step outside and get a breath of air, you need to shut your body… [it’s about] checking in with what are your needs right now.” This strategy might seem difficult to apply in practice because of the typical rules that surround a classroom. However, if we are supporting the spiritual child, then we need to see children’s educational needs and emotional needs as
intertwined. Children will benefit from a practice like this because they will be better able to use their energy on learning when their other needs have been addressed. One teacher describes how this approach has been helpful in her own classroom: “I feel like I have this space here where if you’re having a need, we can usually accommodate it. And that’s not to say that everyone can do just what they want at any given time, but if someone’s really upset, they don’t have to pretend that they’re okay. There’s usually some way we can help them. We can send a teacher out with them to talk. They can borrow a friend to go take a walk or something. I feel like we just have a lot of flexibility in terms of identifying needs. Then, the kids start to do it themselves. And that’s really great to see. I feel like they’re really good at advocating for themselves.” This is an example of mindfulness; mindfulness involves being intentionally present, and this is a spiritual practice. Children are learning to slow down and to check in with how they are feeling in the present moment. Another simple way of including mindfulness can involve “start[ing] each day [by] taking 3 calming breaths together.” These types of practices are inherently spiritual in that they allow the children to connect to themselves and to one another. Teachers, too, can be more mindful. Some teachers tend to connect the behaviour to the children, meaning that if the children behave “badly,” then they themselves are “bad.” However, teachers can choose to use language which affirms the innate spirituality of their students. For instance, Ryan at the Gloucester School will tell children: “This is not about you, this is about something that you did or said and we’re going to talk about that action, not about you as a person. People are fundamentally good and you are a good person.”
This type of language separates the behaviour from the child, and allows both the teacher and the child to experience each other as emotional, whole, spiritual people. This shift in perspective invites a holistic and spiritual relationship between student and teacher. As Ryan put it, “it’s pretty close to unconditional love.” It can be seen as an opportunity to transform our practice in order to better connect with our students. Ryan continues: “I don’t really think of this as being a disciplinarian job at all, actually. Obviously, there are rules and there’s a structure, but a lot of times it’s just a conversation.” Changing our language in this way creates an environment which is more open and loving. This mentality fosters the development of children in a manner that focuses on who they are, rather than mistakes they have made. In addition, a student from the St. Alphonsus Rodriguez school describes how a teacher, Jordan, set up a meditative space for the students to use before school started: “There’s no words, there’s no prayer, really, it’s just come in and there’s light and candles ...you can come in and stay for as long or as little as you like and just sit in quiet and contemplate things, which is nice.” This space allows both students and teachers to engage with their spirituality in a way that is scaffolded and supported. Students can choose to use this space as a place to calm down, experience silence, get centered, meditate, pray, or even to think. While Jordan held this space before school started in the mornings, we might think about how to include this type of space within the classroom itself:
Teachers can set up a contemplative space in the classroom where students can sit in quiet and recharge. In giving children this freedom, we are encouraging them to monitor their hearts, minds, and bodies so that they can become aware of what they need.
Alternatively, teachers can also hold this type of meditative space at the end of the school day. This would allow the children to close the day on a spiritual note, with a sense of community and peace before ending the day.
Conclusions The educators in our data teach from a deeply spiritual place. The examples shared in this article come from teachers who are grounded in their spirituality and equipped to incorporate some of their own spiritual practices into their teaching. Creating a spiritual classroom can help each child get in touch with the depth of their entire being, instead of only addressing a child’s behaviour from a surface level point of view. Focusing on the whole child enables this type of spiritual environment where teachers are approaching their students from a more comprehensive perspective. It is this shift in perspective that fosters a nurturing and spiritual ecosystem, and this is what will allow children to become their truest selves in the classroom setting. Lastly, helping children to become familiar with these spiritual practices outside of emotionally charged times provides them with insight into how to integrate these practices for self -regulation in times of distress. In incorporating these practices into the classroom, teachers are helping students to connect to each other and themselves on a deeper, spiritual, soul-to-soul level.
Some teachers tend to connect the behaviour to the children, meaning that if the children behave “badly,” then they themselves are “bad.” However, teachers can choose to use language which affirms the innate spirituality of their students.
Feature: Howard Deitcher
ing Jewish Early Childhood Spirituality, Ritual and Reggio Emilia: Possibilities and Opportunities
It's early Sunday morning and the four year old children from Gan Avital (an Israeli Jewish early childhood program) are scurrying around the room preparing for their weekly Havdalah service. The Havdalah service signals the end of the Jewish Sabbath but many of these children did not celebrate this ritual with their families on Saturday evening and are excitedly making last minute preparations for their group ritual on Sunday morning, which marks the beginning of their school week. The week before, the children prepared braided candles, and collected various spices from their organic garden, that will be used in the Havdalah ceremony. As Adam closes the curtains, Tal dims the light, and the children gather together in a circle waiting for the ritual to begin. Their teacher Avital invites them to take a deep breath, close their eyes, and then prods them to share their hopes and expectations for the coming week. This is followed by the formal seven minute ritual that includes lighting the braided candle, smelling the aromatic spices, and drinking the grape juice. At the end of the service, Avital shares her educational hopes and expectations for the coming week, and the children are excited to begin a new week, energized, enthused and spiritually uplifted. Observing this service allowed me to appreciate the educational impact of rituals in early childhood education, and their ability to infuse young children with spiritual growth from a young age. This brief description of a weekly early childhood ritual sets the stage for my exploration into the potential power of a spiritual educational experience for young children. We believe that Havdalah represents a form of early childhood pedagogy that is carefully aligned with our understanding of young children’s development, and can be mined for its ability to stimulate their curiosity and engagement. As an Israeli researcher of Jewish education currently engaged in various projects worldwide, I maintain that fusing together the areas of early childhood spirituality, ritual as education, and creative pedagogy carries serious implications for the field. This article will open with a brief review of various components of spirituality in young children's education, with a specific focus on Jewish education. This will be followed by a discussion about the critical role that various cultural and religious rituals play in the spiritual lives of young children. In seeking ways to introduce these ideas and concepts into the world of practice, I will analyze the described Havdalah ritual and then proceed to reflect on how celebrating this
ritual interacts with foundational principles of the world renowned Reggio Emilia approach. This section will also include several practical ways to introduce these principles into early childhood settings. Throughout the article we will explore a range of possibilities for parallel educational experiences in other religious and cultural settings.
Spirituality in Jewish Early Childhood Education In seeking to define spirituality in a manner particularly relevant to child education in general and Jewish education in particular, I refer to Anne Trousdale’s claim that spirituality is “the capacity in human beings for wonderment… for interest in the nature and origin of things: and for considering how one is related to others, to oneself, and to the world around us.” (Trousdale, 2005) This working definition of spirituality is thus infused with a deep sense of curiosity and a search for meaning beyond the self; it is curiosity that initiates the eternal cycle of transcendence, exploration, discovery, and inquiry. More specifically, when adapting these principles for early childhood education, we embrace the notion of wonderment as focusing on how young children relate to others, to themselves and to the world around them that includes a range of higher powers.
The Role of Ritual and Theories of Early Childhood Education What is the pivotal role of ritual in early childhood education? Several studies have documented the singular role that ritual can play in fostering a sense of spiritual development and growth. (Miller, 2016, Sasso-Eisenberg, 2019) Henceforth are three ways that rituals cultivate children's spiritual growth: Rituals serve to accentuate the community’s essential values via the multiple messages that surface from the core narratives and symbols.
Performing religious rituals generates new ways of imagining the role of spirituality in one’s life. Sasso-Eisenberg offers a compelling metaphor that captures the relationship between spirituality and ritual: "Spirituality is the breath that blows through the windows of our souls. Ritual, the reading of the sacred text and the recitation of liturgy, are like the strings of the
harp and the viola. Without the viola, without the strings, there would be no music." (SassoEisenberg, 2019, p. 21)
Ritual enacts the essential meaning of the fundamental narratives that lie at the heart of the communal beliefs and accompanying commitments. Marrying history, tradition, and ritual serves as an extraordinary tool that fosters a sense of cultural pride that ultimately shapes and deepens group identity. In contemporary society, there is a critical need to offer individuals a symbolic language that draws on historical associations and practices.
The Havdalah Ceremony as a Spiritual Ritual In attempting to fully uncover the power of the described Havdalah ritual in Gan Avital, I will now analyze various portions of the ritual that serve as catalysts for meaningful early childhood spiritual education. First and foremost, we note that spirituality plays a seminal role in all aspects of Jewish life. According to Maimonides, the Torah (Book of Moses) focuses on two key aims: the well-being of the soul and the wellbeing of the body. For our purposes, the well-being of the soul refers to inward, spiritual growth, which deserves and requires ongoing nurture and support. However, when it comes to fulfilling religious commitments, Judaism clearly prioritizes religious behavior over faith assertions. This principle shapes the structure of Jewish life, ritual, and practice and certainly carries far-reaching implications for early childhood education (Schein, 2013) The Hebrew word Havdalah means separation or distinction, and this ritual signifies the end of the holiness of the Sabbath and the reentry into the period of the six workdays. Since Jewish days begin and end with nightfall, Havdalah is recited when three stars appear on Saturday evening and this ritual includes a range of spiritual experiences that can shape and impact a young child's development. The Havdalah ritual includes a brief prayer highlighting differences that we experience in our daily lives with a particular focus on appreciating how the Sabbath contrasts with the other days of the week. Focusing on the contrast between the extraordinary and holy nature of the Sabbath with the six workdays generates a learning process that can spark multiple educational opportunities.
In addition, the Havdalah ceremony includes the activation of the following senses: taste (via the wine); smell (via the spices); sight (via the contrast between light and darkness); hearing (via the blessings and songs); and touch (via the special texture of the multiwick candle). These experiences are suffused with sensory as well as symbolic meaning, and thereby can trigger an active learning experience for young children.
Havdalah as Pedagogy in Jewish Early Childhood Education The Reggio teacher's role is to co-construct learning experiences, serving as a guide in nurturing the children's curiosity, working together to offer a hypothesis, followed by a process wherein the group proposes a solution to the challenges at hand. To that end, we suggest first experiencing a Havdalah ceremony with the children, followed by reflection and then the group decides on follow up activities. Based on our experience working with young Israeli children, we wanted to share three learning activities that on the one hand, reflect key Reggio principles, and at the same time, lend themselves to examining several outstanding features of the Havdalah ceremony. These learning experiences embody several key Reggio principles including: a) Children are capable of taking an active role in their learning b) Children possess 100 languages, which serves as a metaphor for encouraging them to express themselves in diverse ways c) The critical role of following an emergent curriculum d) Teachers are seen as equal learners e) Documentation
The Progettazione The Reggio Emilia concept of the 'progettazione' embodies a constructivist model of project oriented education that drives the learning experience. (Reggio, 2010) This approach highlights young children’s ability to construct a group project that draws on a host of senses, concepts, ideas, skills, and instruments of assessment. As noted above, the vibrant Havdalah ceremony affords many of these educational resources, including learning about and activating human senses. Hence, we suggest the following projects: A group project compares the role of scent activation process in humans with those in certain animals. The
children can compare scent activation in various animals, including rabbits, cats, dogs, etc… Children examine how different nocturnal animals live and interact with each other. Children research, plant and then pick various herbal plants that will be used in the Havdalah ritual.
"Ray of Light Atelier" The Havdalah blessing states: “Blessed are You, God, who… separates between the light and darkness.” One of the key exhibits at the Loris Malaguzzi International Centre in Reggio Emilia, Italy is entitled: “Ray of Light.” https://www.reggiochildren.it/en/ ateliers/ray-of-light-atelier/. The "Ray of Light Atelier" offers teachers and children opportunities to research and experiment with contrasting characteristics and features of light. In this context, we imagine the following two experiences that build on the Ray of Light Atelier and proceed to provoke wonder and curiosity about the Havdalah ceremony. As described above, the Havdalah ritual in Gan Avital includes dimming the lights in the room and then the children are asked to shut their eyes and reflect on this sensual experience. As the children open their eyes, they are invited to consider the contrast between the candle's illuminating light and the room's overall darkness. Children share how their vision responds to the dramatic changes in light. Another educational activity invites young children to observe different forms of sunlight. This can be done as young children watch a sunrise, a sunset, a sunny day or a cloudy one, and then draw pictures or video record their impressions about the similar and different light images.
Documentation The central theme in the Havdalah ceremony is the power of difference: It denotes the difference between sacred and profane, light and darkness, Israel and the other nations, and the Sabbath and the other days. The Reggio principle of documentation provides children and teachers with the opportunity to register their impressions, to process and reflect on them, and then share their impressions with others. This stimulates their ability to offer new insights regarding their discoveries, and to share these thoughts with their peers and teachers. Children interact with each other on a topic of interest, and then document how they learn to understand, analyze, and internalize contrasting
perspectives of others who view the world through different lenses. At the end of the conversations, the children document what they learned from listening carefully to their peer’s presentations, reflect on them, and constructively and publicly share their impressions. Children reflect and then document their current thoughts, concerns, hopes and aspirations for the new week. In preparation for the Havdalah ceremony, they can be invited to focus their documentation on a specific event, emotion, or interaction that is particularly meaningful at this point in their life. This may include poignant interactions with friends, family members or others, and in various educational and social settings, or a specific project in which they are deeply involved. Holding a group Havdalah ceremony in the child’s educational framework provides youngsters with the opportunity to share their life experiences and to reflect on their hopes and plans for the coming week. In conversations with groups of early childhood educators, we learned that many of these activities are relevant and meaningful for other religious and cultural rituals as well.
Conclusion In a most enlightening interview, Loris Malaguzzi, the visionary founder of Reggio, portrays the role of the early childhood school in the following way: We think of a school for young children as an integral living organism, as a place of shared lives and relationships among many adults and many children. We think of a school as a sort of construction in motion, continuously adjusting itself. (Gandini, 2012). This article has underscored several extraordinary features of spirituality as an opportunity to "share lives and build relationships". In line with the Reggio ethos, we believe that introducing young children to rituals generates a sense of dynamism and triggers their curiosity. More specifically, we demonstrated how the Havdalah ritual realizes this goal, and serves as a paradigm for the power of ritual in general to impact children's spiritual growth.
In conclusion, we are convinced that ritual in general, and Havdalah in particular provide children with the keys to launch a lifelong spiritual journey that will take a variety of turns, sudden stops, uphill climbs, and periodical descents; in short, an extraordinary learning experience.
Research: Steve Younger
In issue 3 of Soul to Soul1, Adrian Gellel explored the Pedagogical Potential of Halloween. To some, this may have seemed an unusual topic for those interested in exploring the spirituality of children. In a follow-up seminar online, Gellel helped us to consider this in greater depth. He referenced Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief2. This fictional work, narrated by a surprisingly gentle and compassionate ‘Death’, is set in Germany in World War 2, and tells the story of nine year-old Liesel and Max, a Jew her family hides. Liesel learns to read from stolen books. Gellel quoted Death: “Here is a small fact. You are going to die.” In his seminar, Gellel pointed out that “people now do not generally die in their own homes among their own family, so young people do not experience death at close quarters normally. But can you understand life without thinking about death?” The article and seminar raised questions about how children and young people understand death and make sense of it emotionally and spiritually. This reminded me that back in 2012, all S5 and S6 pupils (16 and 17 year-old students) in my local Secondary Education School (Calderside Academy) took part in a one-day event. Every student could select attendance at 4 out of a range of seminars on the theme ‘Challenging Perceptions’. Topics included issues such as ‘Challenging Perceptions on Mental Health’, ‘...on Drug Addiction’, ‘...on Sexual Health’, ‘...on First Aid’, etc. As a member of the School Chaplaincy Team of six local Faith Leaders - all of us ordained ministers of various Christian Denominations - I was asked to provide a seminar on ‘Challenging Perceptions on Faith and Spirituality.’ Students attended in groups of 20. In theory each student had a “free” choice: in practice the more popular options filled up quickly and students’ choices after this were selected for them. In the four groups I led, the numbers who had freely chosen this 50minute session were successively 1, 5, 4, and 6 (20%). In effect, 80% of those present had not chosen this option. At the outset it was stressed to students that this was not a session of indoctrination or a lecture in which they would be told what to think. The interactive nature of the session was stressed. I wanted to explore their feelings and reactions and perceptions on issues of faith and spirituality. To begin with the words ‘Religion’, ‘Faith’ and ‘Spirituality’ were written on the classroom whiteboard. Each student had a pile of sticky notes and was asked to jot down their reactions, thoughts and associations related to each of these three words. They were allowed to be free
and encouraged to be honest. It was explained that this was about impressions, feelings and reactions to these terms - and that those reactions would help me understand how they perceived or viewed this field. Responses to ‘Faith’ were overwhelmingly negative in connotation, and responses to ‘Spirituality’ were unanimously positive. Students could then write questions about ‘Faith’ and ‘Spirituality’ in words or sentences or by drawing small pictures. In practice, several asked if they could have more than one question and this was agreed. Eliminating multiple questions from those students (only the first question they posted was used) and accounting for those who opted out gave a final set of 60 individual questions. These were grouped thematically afterwards. Again there was time for observation and comment. In categorising and analysing the single questions, it was unsurprising in many ways that 11 of 60 questions (18%) related to the problem of evil (Why do bad things happen to good people?), 11 of 60 questions (18%) were Existential (Why are we here?), 10 of 60 questions were Ontological (Is there a God?) and 10 of 60 questions were Random. At the outset of this exercise, I had assumed that many questions would indeed be about dealing with/coping with evil, and about existential inquiry (the purpose of life). But the largest group of questions concerned life/death. Liesel, in The Book Thief, is living through a war and coping with the trauma of her brother’s death and separation from her family. But the situation and circumstances of these Scottish 16 and 17 year olds had no parallels to Liesel’s context. The unanticipated response was that the largest single category of question, 15 of 60 (25%), might be termed Thanatological: they were questions around death and dying. “Is there a life beyond this? Is there an afterlife? (x3) Will I live forever or just to 90? What does it feel like when you die? Where do you go after death? Where do you go when you die? To someone close who has died: why did you leave me? Why do we all have to die? How do you go to heaven after you die? Why do more people get cremated than buried? Will I go to heaven when I die? Is there life after death? Why do we try to achieve so much in life only to die in the end?” In discussing this with the School’s Senior Management Team (SMT) afterwards, I note the following observations. Firstly, that none of us had expected that death and dying would prove to be the largest single category of ‘Big Questions.’ Knowledge concerns the gathering of facts and wisdom is about
what you do with those facts. The SMT wondered why this category dominated. Without a purposeful followup with a focus group of pupils (in retrospect, a missed opportunity) we could only speculate together. Our School community had been newly formed three years before, on a ‘new build’ large campus that had brought together two High Schools (of 550 pupils and 700 pupils), a specialist Deaf Unit, and an Additional Support Needs Unit (with 50 pupils). Each of these incoming groups had, before combining, experienced the loss of students by trauma (accident and suicide), though not since combining. Other factors the SMT suggested were the impact of a teacher’s death; the immense popularity at the time of certain genres of teen fiction (e.g. the Twilight series of teen vampire/ romance stories by Stephanie Meyer, the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling, Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones about a murdered teenager, Lisa Schroeder I Heart You, You Haunt Me about a teen girl haunted by her dead boyfriend)3; the prevalence of Horror films with PG ratings that students nonetheless seemed to devour (e.g. the Saw series); and the death of celebrities (e.g. Amy Winehouse, Steve Jobs). The SMT also debated what to do with this focus on death and dying, and how to respond to these questions. The school management team split evenly amongst those who saw this as a ‘taboo’ subject that did not fit anywhere in the curriculum and those who wanted to address the issues raised. Some expressed a view that it would be dangerous and risky to explore this within school. They worried that opening a discussion on such issues would open up counselling needs that the School was “not equipped to deal with.” CAMHS in the UK (Child and Adult Mental Health Services) were – and still are - notoriously underfunded and overwhelmed. Even urgent counselling referrals for students at high risk of selfharm/suicide took months to process. The SMT worried that opening discussion on issues of death would trigger multiple referrals. Others expressed the opinion that it was vital the school find a way to safely address the pupils’ questions. To put it crudely: “if this is where the itch is then this is where we have to scratch.” It was agreed that the School’s own Guidance staff, and the Chaplaincy Team, should consciously follow up with exploration of these themes in school assemblies and the RME classes (Religious and Moral Education). It was agreed, after some discussion and trepidation, that the Chaplaincy Team would use the students’ questions for a series of School assemblies and that
school Guidance Staff and the Chaplains would provide a pastoral response to any issues that arose. The school largely delegated responsibility for followup to the Chaplaincy Team on the basis that “You are the ones who know about death.” In the event, only one further senior school assembly explored these questions. Individual chaplains also took part in small group discussions within RME classes. The option of a ‘Vestry Hour’ was also created – a designated time and space in which pupils could opt to come for a one -to-one discussion with a chaplain. There was no flood of referrals for counselling and a handful of pupils engaged with chaplains on an individual basis. My personal feeling was that the school missed a moment of spiritual significance and students’ questions remained largely unexplored. How prevalent was this interest in death and dying? I could not, at the time, find data on any parallels in other Scottish schools. I did, however, discover an apparent global parallel shortly after. In 2013, the artist Candy Chang published her book, Before I Die4. The Before I Die movement began with her personal response to the death of the woman who had raised her for fifteen years after the death of her parents. Chang stencilled the words ‘Before I die I want to…’ on the hoarding round an abandoned house in her neighbourhood and left a box of chalks. In the morning, passing members of the community had covered the hoarding with chalked responses. That initial hoarding turned into a global art project that invited people to reflect on their mortality and consider the things that mattered most to them. Up to 2017 ‘Before I die’ walls have appeared on over 5,000 walls in 78 countries and in thirty-five languages5. Children and young people were prominent in the many interactions with these walls. Everyone, it seems, not just children and young people, needs a space or a place or a means to explore and express thoughts and feelings about death. The project evolved in an overwhelmingly positive experience across the world with a focus on hope rather than despair, as evidenced by the “top
five most common responses globally”6 1st Love, 2nd Live, 3rd Travel, 4th Be Happy, 5th Help Others It would be interesting to see if this fascination by children and young people with questions of death, dying and bereavement was universal and if it is persistent. Given the anonymous nature of Candy Chang’s Before I die walls, it is not possible to determine the age range of respondents. Where pictures exist from the various sites, it is abundantly clear that all ages participated and posted questions and comments and reactions. Ten years on, we have all lived with large-scale natural disasters (notably tsunamis and earthquakes), climate change events (drought and flood), famine, armed conflicts, and a global pandemic. These are the very factors which have prompted a rise, for instance, in so -called ‘Death Education’ across some parts of Asia. “Taiwan was the first in Asia to introduce death education in mainstream schools in 2000, due to a rise in suicide cases and school violence in the 1980s. The 1999 Jiji earthquake in Taiwan, known locally as the 921 earthquake where 2,416 people were killed, was another motivating factor for introducing death education.”7 ‘Death Education’ is now a part of the mainstream school curriculum in Taiwan from Primary 5 through Secondary Education. This is very much a systematic, planned, secular response. But bearing in mind the words of the SMT in Calderside Academy to the Chaplaincy team of faith community representatives a decade ago – “You are the ones who know about death” – raises questions about the spiritual aspects of helping children and young people through issues of death and dying. The International Bible Societies, for instance, have responded to the impact of trauma on children, and their fears of death and dying, with the creation of the Trauma Healing Institute8 and a host of resources rooted in a compassionate, faithbased, spiritual outlook.
Voices 2012: Scotland (Collected by Steve Younger) Eighty 16-17 year-olds were asked, “If you could ask God or the wisest person in the world one question… what would you ask?” What would they ask in 2022? What would they ask where you live?
“Is there a life beyond this?” “Is there an afterlife?” “Will I live forever or just to 90?” “What does it feel like when you die?” “Where do you go after death?” “Where do you go when you die?” “To someone close who has died: why did you leave me?” “Why do we all have to die?” “How do you go to heaven after you die?” “Why do more people get cremated than buried?” “Will I go to heaven when I die?” “Is there life after death?” “Why do we try to achieve so much in life only to die in the end?”
Voices 2012: Scotland (Collected by Steve Younger) What else did the young people ask? What would they ask now? How can we help them explore for answers?
The problem of evil Why do so many natural disasters happen in the world? Why do all the bad things happen? Why does war have to happen? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do bad things happen in the world? Why is there so much war when people want peace? Why did God create Lucifer when he brings evil to the world? Why does God take the good people away and leave the bad people to live a normal life? Why do people have illness and die? Why do people hurt and kill each other?
Meaning and Purpose Why are we here? What are the secrets of the universe? How did we get here? What is the meaning of life? Why does the world work the way that it does? What are we living for? What is the purpose of our existence? What is our purpose? Is this it? Creation theory.
Theology Does God and the Devil exist - yes or no? How do you know there’s a god? Is there a hell? Are you there (God)? Is God real? If God could exist why doesn’t he prove that he does? Why do people invest in an imaginary figure? Why do we believe in God? Is there a true Jesus? Is it true - why do we believe in God? Why do people kill in your name(s)? How do you [God] feel about people killing in your name?
Religion How will we ever know if there is a one true religion, and who has the right religion or faith out millions? Why is there different religions? Why are there so many religions in the world? Why are there so many religions and so many gods: how can this be?
Random What will my future be like when I’m older? I wouldn’t ask any question. Could I have more questions? Why do we have school? How do you get 0% fat in a Greek style yoghurt? Why do we question our life instead of just living it? Is there other life in the universe? Are we the only life in the universe? Where are my magic powers?
Article: Rene Berends
Creating spiritual “fearless human bein How spirituality fits into the Dalton ed
ngs” ducation of Helen Parkhurst
Creating spiritual fearless human beings How spirituality fits into the Dalton education of Helen Parkhurst Dalton Education is education that is inspired by the Dalton Plan of the American pedagogue Helen Parkhurst (1886-1973). She pursued broad personal development of 'fearless human beings'. By this she meant people who realise their true human nature (creativity) and tackle the major political and social problems as democratic, proactive citizens. According to Parkhurst, education must be revitalised for this. She argues that schoolwork should be about gaining real-life experiences and should not be taken out of the hands of children, but rather put this responsibility in their hands. In the safe context of the school as a community, children learn to live by living, learn by learning and work by working. ‘Learning for life’ at a Dalton school is learning 'for real' in an experimental way by working in freedom on interesting and meaningful tasks (assignments). The point is that children learn to plan these tasks freely, to work on them independently and together, and to take responsibility for their implementation. In this article we discuss the question of how Dalton education and spirituality can reinforce each other and how spiritual fearless human beings can be.
Dalton education worldwide In the 1920s and 1930s, there were thousands of Dalton schools worldwide1. But when the hype of reform pedagogy was over and governments established a 'national curriculum' in many countries, Dalton education only remained popular and widespread in the Netherlands. The number of Dalton schools in the Netherlands has grown to about 400 schools (about 5% of the total number of schools). Worldwide interest in Dalton Education is now growing again.
Helen Parkhurst and spirituality Helen Parkhurst was given complete freedom to develop her intellectual and artistic talents, during her childhood in Durand (Wisconsin) from her parents. Her mother took her to church, to museums and theatres. And at home, where her parents ran a hotel, she spent a lot of time talking to her grandmother, who was often at their place. They celebrated together and made music together. The Parkhurst family were members of the Methodist Church, her mother was an active member of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), and Helen herself attended Sunday school. As a teenager, she was a member of an organisation called Christian
Endeavour. There she spoke with peers about life, but also about spirituality and faith. Parkhurst thought the Church's views on education and pedagogy were too traditional. She wrote about her experiences with the harsh mental and physical discipline that the Church advocated. Parkhurst argued that these are based on the (wrong) assumption that the child has a bad disposition, which must be broken and subjugated with the help of rigid norms and punishments during upbringing. This criticism of institutionalised religious experience in religious denominations has not led to Parkhurst banning spirituality and religiosity from her pedagogical ideas. Her criticism became one of the fundamental basics of her pedagogy. She thought children should get more freedom and responsibility because they can handle that. From 1910 Parkhurst started experimenting with her pedagogical and didactic ideas. She created subject rooms (which she calls laboratories) in the schools she worked and made contracts with students about the tasks they had to finish in a week or month. Within the task, Parkhurst believed it is important that the student should have the freedom to make their own choices and set up their own program. A student is responsible for the tasks and Parkhurst felt that as a teacher you should coach the student so they succeed. When, in 1942, she said goodbye to the school she had founded herself, the New York Dalton School, she paid attention to religious and spiritual aspects in her pedagogical research into the perception of children. Parkhurst started to interview children, and many conversations have been released on long-playing records. These cover topics such as The Child's Idea of God and Praying, The Child's Rights, A Child's Idea of Death and Criticism, and themes related to children's ideas about values and norms. This makes clear what Parkhurst was ultimately all about. Both in her Dalton Plan and in the frequent conversations she had, it becomes clear that she is concerned with giving the child a voice in its own development and life. As educators, we must be open and willing to talk to children without judging them. And in the broad topic of subjectification2 that she advocates, there has to be plenty of room for philosophising, for spirituality and for religious experiences and ideas.
Clarification of concepts The story of Parkhurst's own experiences makes it clear that concepts need to be clarified. You could say that "the" faith and "the" religion are concepts that mainly stand for the institutionalised form of the Church. Religion has more to do with the strictly personal relationship that a person can have with a
'divine power', while spirituality could then be understood as 'concerning the spirit’. It is about giving meaning and giving meaning to life. In the national curriculum of The Netherlands, teachers are obliged to give worldview and citizenship education. Worldview education includes the spiritual and the religious, but it also goes further. It's about the questions people ask about the lives they lead and how they stand in the world. There is a knowledge component in this, because it answers the question of how people in different times and different cultures have sought and given answers. In the classroom the knowledge component is covered, with lessons about religions of the world and different philosophy perspectives in the curriculum. At the same time, Dalton schools have room for sharing one's own experiences, for freedom and stories, for philosophical questions, for doubt and uncertainty. Because the children are responsible for their own cognitive and spiritual development, there needs to be a teacher who can coach the children correctly in these processes. Because Parkhurst's Dalton Plan stands for broad, person-forming education, it is necessary to pay attention to identity development, and to symbols and rituals in the classroom3. Also, attention is paid to feelings, emotions and moods as well as to the development of reason, intellect. In Dalton Education there is a place for this kind of education because of the freedom there is to explore and discover.
Fearless Girl Fearless Girl is a bronze sculpture by Kristen Visbal, on Broad Street across from the New York Stock Exchange Building in the Financial District of Manhattan in New York City. The statue was installed on March 7th, 2017, in anticipation of International Women's Day the following day. It depicts a 1.2m tall girl promoting female empowerment. Fearless Girl was commissioned by a large asset management company, to advertise for an index fund that comprises gender-diverse companies that have a relatively high percentage of women among their senior leadership. A plaque originally placed below the statue stated: "Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference," with "SHE" being both a descriptive pronoun and the fund's NASDAQ ticker symbol. The statue was first installed at the northern tip of Bowling Green on Broadway facing down the Charging Bull statue. Following complaints from that statue's sculptor, Arturo Di Modica, it was removed in November 2018 and relocated to its current location the following month. A plaque with footprints was placed on the original site of Fearless Girl. [From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fearless_Girl]
The educational and religious backgrounds of schools in The Netherlands In the Netherlands there is a freedom of education anchored in the Constitution. This creates the unique situation that schools can be divided into educational pedagogy: we have regular, but also Dalton, Montessori and Jenaplan schools. However, schools are also classified according to their religious background: public schools, Catholic, Protestant Christian, Jewish, Islamic schools. The uniqueness of the situation in the Netherlands is that these divisions overlap. For example, there are Dalton schools with a public, Catholic, Jewish and Protestant Christian identity. And that means in practice, depending on the extent to which the school puts that religious identity into practice, that the broad personal development that Dalton education advocates is shaped more or less from that religious identity. Religious and spiritual themes can therefore be colored more or less from the identity of the school in Dalton schools. From the backgrounds of Dalton education itself, it is mainly about supporting children in their personal development by informing children (knowledge and
giving meaning), but also by offering space for what we do not yet know, for things such as curiosity, amazement and personal development. We need to led them ask questions, experiencing stories and enjoying art, music and celebrating together, looking for essences in your life with room for your own feelings and doubts. There has to be room to experiment which rules, symbols and rituals appeal to you. In this way the child discovers who s/he is and learns to answer questions such as: Who am I? What do I want, find, feel, know, believe, have, think, trust and hope? And all this not as an idea for the formation of the 'ultimate personalistic, individualistic uniqueness', but precisely in the context of being respectful in plurality, in which you learn to relate to others, to differences, to the world and perhaps to 'the higher' or the cosmos. This, in the vision of Parkhurst, is the development of “fearless human beings”. The Dalton school is a training ground for this, so that children form themselves as a person, in freedom, with and through others and with and through the world, so that they learn to take responsibility for themselves, for others and for that world. There they develop skills for self-examination (reflection) and develop their morality in the safe context of the school community. The practice – asking questions of life In this part we discuss the practice. How can the teacher discuss life question and what kind of question could be discussed with children? The beginning of all science is the wonder of things as they are. No wonder children ask questions to develop a meaningful worldview. Such questions must be able to be asked openly. It happens all too often at home as well as at school that children are being laughed at and corrected and they become careful to express doubts and ask questions. If there is a safe climate at school, in which such questions and doubts can be expressed and 'everything' can be said within the pedagogical situation of the school, then the school offers excellent opportunities for spirituality. Then there is also room for research into their own core values and motives and for personal/identity development. Talking about customs, parties and rituals around birth, marriage and death, topics such as sexuality and heaven, and discovering how diverse people can think about these, helps. As a teacher you can pay attention to six vital questions for philosophical, spiritual and identity development, but also in the context of social development. These questions were written down by Kluckhohn and Strudbeck (1961) for religious and worldview education. The six questions are still the main vital life questions we can discuss with children.
Six questions of life 1. What is a human being? 2. What is good and evil? 3. How do people live together? 4. What is the meaning of suffering and death? 5. What is space? 6. What is time? The first question (What is a human being?) is about what kind of person you actually are. You can talk about feelings: are you cheerful, shy, nice? Do you have confidence, are you insecure? What do you like to do, what do you find important? You can also answer some more philosophical questions around this question: to whom do you owe your life? Are you responsible? And to whom are you accountable? If you speak openly, you can make prejudices about this theme open to discussion, but also make differences between people and cultures visible and plurality visible. The second question (what is good and evil?) is about the value(s), motives, and moral principles, which you find important in your life. You can talk about what is written about it in holy books and discuss the question of whether and how you let that determine your life. It's also about relating to others, about bullying and teasing. Under the theme of how people live together (question three), you can discuss questions about the value and importance of the family, relatives and friends you grow up with and the neighborhood where that happens. It deals with topics such as building relationships, quarrels, connection, love, hope and security. Pain, powerlessness, lack, dissatisfaction and disappointment are subjects that are central to the fourth question of life: what is the meaning of suffering and death? These are topics that can occasionally occur when something traumatic happens in the classroom or to a child or in the world. Don’t let it depend on these happenings, it can also be asked randomly and neutrally. The fifth question (what is space?) is not just about physical space. This theme is often about freedom. How free are you in your actions, in what you want and feel, in your thinking and is man responsible for what he thinks, feels, wants and does? The last theme is time (question 6). Children often ask questions about how they came into the world; how the world came to be; what happens next. Talking about time also provides contexts to talk about cycles in nature, about time circles and calendars.
These questions are more powerful when the teachers connect them to stories from different spiritual, religious and cultural traditions. The advantage of using stories is that children can relate better to their classmates and the world around them. By talking to each other about these six questions, immersing yourself in each other and linking it to rich stories from traditions, a child will be able to give meaning in a substantiated way. “Why do waves never get tired?” When discussing life questions during philosophy lessons, during discussions, day openings, during conversations, dialogues and debates, children can acquire knowledge and insights. After all, it is also about knowledge development and the creation of meaning. For example, pay attention to how people in different cultures think, what they believe, what they experience. Invite people and use your own sources if you, as a teacher, step outside your own knowledge and insights. But also put yourself 'in the game'. Do not put your own personality to the background when you enter the classroom. You are a source of identification for children. Collect questions from children. Challenge them to come up with questions like; why do waves never get tired? Even though there are sometimes no answers, paying attention to such questions helps children to learn to think and reason in a more perspective way. In this way they discover that others can look at things differently and that such different perspectives can enrich your own thinking and feeling. Dalton Education: creating spiritual fearless human beings In the beginning of this article, we spoke about the aim of Parkhurst to create fearless human beings in Dalton schools. The aim to realise humans who are pro-active democratic and social beings who are in line with their deeper thoughts of what they want is a very spiritual aim. The way this article describes Dalton schools, there is a lot of space and time to invest in the spiritual development of children. If the schools make the choice to let children independently discover, wonder and interact with the world around them, this would be a major advantage of stimulating spiritual development in Dalton education. To see the school as a community where it is safe to make mistakes, to correct and to connect yourself, and to practice everyday life with your peers, teachers create fearless human beings. When the teacher (and the school) spends time to explore vital life questions, discovering the environment of the school and where there is space to wonder, we create, in Parkhurst's philosophy, spiritual fearless human beings.
“Why do waves n
never get tired?”
Article: Kieran O’Brien
Towards an Intrinsic Spirituality
“Children tend to see things just as they are, not as we interpret them to be.”
Towards an intrinsic spirituality Some of the greatest challenges we face today, including climate change, social inequality, pollution of land, sea and air, racism, extreme poverty, all share a common source. Each of these global challenges should not be viewed as discrete problems needing to be solved, but rather as symptoms of a breakdown in our relationships with each other, the natural world and even within ourselves. How can we look to restore and heal these broken relationships at the source? And what does this have to do with spirituality? And how can we practice this new spirituality with children and young people? The good news is that children already know how to do this instinctively, the question is how can we help them to retain and nourish this type of spirituality as they grow and mature? “It’s not fair!”, was the children’s indignant response as I told the story of Odette, a young girl who had to walk for two hours each day to collect water from the local river in her small village in rural Mozambique. The whole school assembly I was delivering was clearly having a tangible impact on all the listeners, irrespective of age. As a storyteller I know how important it is to bring real stories to life to help children understand abstract concepts like injustice, poverty and inequality in a tangible and meaningful way. And this particular story that featured in my assembly was a simple, and yet powerful one. The children’s response was universal, it simply wasn’t fair and something had to be done. From my experience, children understand and appreciate the concept of injustice, especially in early years. They know instinctively when something is unfair, and they can be quite vocal if they feel a situation is unjust. This is what makes working with children on issues around poverty and injustice so rewarding, as they haven’t yet absorbed the dominant myths of our times that interprets the world through an ‘us’ and ‘them’ narrative, nor do they see the world through the dominant economics paradigm that rationalises poverty as an unfortunate, yet necessary, part of economic reality. Children tend to see things just as they are, not as we interpret them to be. This innocent view of the world is a joy to work with; children have absolutely no qualms in believing that a just and peaceful world is possible, nor do they have trouble with universal concepts such as global solidarity, where we view everyone is our sister and brother. They absolutely believe in values such as fairness and equality, and will tend to picture the world around them as a beautiful one, albeit with
rainbows, butterflies and a sun with a smiley face. Interestingly, this innocent view naturally gravitates towards intrinsic values (‘world at peace’, ‘social justice’, ‘equality’). But as adults, we really struggle with universalism values such as ‘a world at peace’, ‘unity with nature’ and ‘equality’, often holding them as idealistic or aspirational ideals, perhaps only possible in an ideal world, but unachievable in the ‘real’ world. We also tend to view ourselves as separate and independent of each other, despite the evidence to the contrary, and we struggle with any universal ideals of identity where we transcend our national or cultural identities and see ourselves as part of one global family. The reason for this is because we interpret the world around us through a complex matrix of cultural myths, stories and social norms that shape how we view ourselves and how we relate to others in the world. Seldom do we call these basic assumptions into question, and rarely do we critique our own worldviews and the values we hold. Instead, we see and interpret the world around us through our worldviews and values. We consider the way we understand and interpret the world as normative, with little to no consideration that most of our cultural norms, societal stories and myths are predominantly shaped by a capital-centric culture which values wealth, security and status above all others. The result of which is that we tend to prioritise extrinsic values (‘wealth’, ‘sense of belonging’, ‘social order’) over others.
This is why I find the Schwartz values map [below] as a useful tool to help us understand some of the hidden drivers that are under the surface. The map gives a visual representation of the relationship between the dominant values we all hold. The closer the values are to each other on the map, the stronger the relationship, the further apart, the weaker that relationship is. But that is not all, all the values are in dynamic relationship with the other values on the map. Intrinsic values which are found on the top right (‘unity with nature’, ‘social justice’, ‘equality’) are values that come from within, they are self-regulated values. You can’t make someone express the value of ‘unity with nature’, nor can you make someone peaceful, these values arise through inner work. On the bottom left we have extrinsic values which are externally regulated values (‘social power’, ‘wealth’, ‘preserving my public image’), these values are driven by external forces, especially how we perceive others see us. The evidence shows that if you ‘warm’ or engage a value, it influences the values around it, as well as values on the opposite side of the map. When we engage the value ‘unity with nature’, the surrounding values will also be warmed (‘a world of beauty’, ‘protecting the environment’), this is called the bleedover effect. And when we engage ‘unity with nature’, the values on the opposite side of the chart will be suppressed, this is called the see-saw effect; engaging
“You can’t make someone express the value of ‘unity with nature’, nor can you make someone peaceful, these values arise through inner work.”
intrinsic values suppresses extrinsic values, and vice versa. This insight is extremely useful in helping us to understand some of the dynamics that drive the global problems we face today. If values shape how we think, see and act, as well as what we prioritise over others, then the urgent task is to awaken the necessary values that promote behaviours of care and empathy for our global family and our natural world. These are all intrinsic values. Re-framing our work through a values lens, we can see how the fundamental task in spirituality is to help individuals awaken to, and live out of, their intrinsic values. And when they do, they can live a more authentic, liberating and meaningful life. Unfortunately this is not as easy as it sounds, especially in a culture today that promotes and prioritises extrinsic values of wealth, security and power over all others. How can we ever help to motivate individuals to prioritise intrinsic values over extrinsic, when every day individuals are estimated to encounter between 6,000 and 10,000 marketing messages that are intentionally designed to play to our fears, ego and greed – all of which engages extrinsic values? We simply cannot overlook the huge role these highly sophisticated and ever evasive marketing messages play in shaping the very values that we hold. As the values chart shows, the more you engage and ‘warm’ extrinsic values, the more you suppress intrinsic values, a result of the see-saw effect. Just as we have air pollution and noise pollution, we also have values pollution, where the very values that we hold sacred are being undermined by sophisticated marketing forces that play to our lower values based on fear, greed and ego. So, what is the answer to all this? How can we help children to lead more meaningful and purposeful lives that are not based on the false promises of marketing messages? How can we help children to navigate through this highly complex world in which the foundational values they hold will be consistently undermined? And how can we awaken the very values that we need to help create a safer and more sustainable world where we work together to tackle poverty, injustice, racism, climate change and environmental degradation? These may all seem like huge and complex questions, each deserving their own response, but viewed through a values lens we can see how they are all interconnected and share a common source – which is
the prioritisation of extrinsic values over intrinsic. This is why developing a type of spirituality based on readdressing these values dynamics is so important – this approach is called intrinsic spirituality, which is an intentional approach to rebalance the priority of intrinsic values over extrinsic through a range of different spiritual practices and approaches. Through an intrinsic spirituality we would help children learn how to pray simply, where we encourage them to engage with more contemplative and listening approaches to prayer where they learn how to detach and how to re-attach to what is meaningful in life. We would also encourage them how to live simply, where they learn how to draw from within (contemplative and spiritual practices), rather than always seeking more and more. And we would also help children to remain spiritually curious, where they see their life’s journey as an opportunity to grow their spiritual life. Of course, this type of spiritualty is highly countercultural, especially as it would help children to connect to a more meaningful life, so that children can see their life not just as an opportunity to consume and to accumulate wealth, but rather to seek meaning and a deeper purpose to life. This radical shift sets out the necessary foundation we need to build if we are ever to move from a capital centric culture to a wellbeing centric culture – where the economy serves the needs of the people, not the other way around. Working towards an intrinsic spirituality is challenging and hard work. Trying to help children and young people to prioritise intrinsic values against the backdrop of a consumeristic and materialistic culture is no small task. But let’s consider that if we did get it right, if we did have the skills, insights and tools on how to awaken children and young people to their intrinsic values, the effect this will have not only to their life, but to all those around them, would be profound. The future that we collectively seek, one in which we can overcome the global challenges we face, where we connect to a deeper sense of meaning and purpose that allows us to live a simpler and more fulfilling life, demands a foundational spirituality, one which helps to awaken intrinsic values. When we awaken intrinsic values, the behaviours that follow will include caring for the earth, for our global family and reaching out to help those in need. And given the global problems we collectively face, it would seem that developing an intrinsic spirituality is needed now, more than ever.
“Re-framing our work through a values lens, we can see how the fundamental task in spirituality is to help individuals awaken to, and live out of, their intrinsic values. And when they do, they can live a more authentic, liberating and meaningful life.” (Kieran O
Research: Dr Fateme Ghane
Children’s Stories as a Bridge to Spirituality
Children's stories as a bridge to spirituality The subject of my thesis dissertation is "Comparative study of children's spiritual stories in Persian and English." In this study, I examined Children’s story books based on Rebecca Nye's theory of "relational consciousness." This theory is, in fact, a psychological theory of children's spirituality, and I first redefined the elements of this theory for use in critique of children's stories and used it to analyse stories. Children's literature is a field in which all the characteristics, needs and issues related to children can be reflected. In fact, a child's life in all its dimensions is reflected in children's books, and spirituality is one of them. In recent years, attention to the spirituality of children with a scientific and conscious approach has gained more fans; but the scientific study of this issue in the field of children's literature is still neglected. Children's books are valuable resources for the spiritual development of children and this issue needs to be addressed. The contexts of children's spirituality are based on the theory of “relational consciousness” in four areas: the child's relationship with God, the child's relationship with others, the child's relationship with the world around him/her and the child's relationship with him/ herself. My studies show that the spiritual themes and themes of child spirituality are also in one of those four contexts.
In this research thirty-two ’spiritual’ children’s stories (sixteen Persian stories and sixteen English storiesfour stories in each of the four themes) have been selected and these stories are analysed in terms of the general structure of fiction and illustration, as well as spirituality based on the theory of relational consciousness. Then, the patterns of spiritual storytelling for children are extracted and their use in Persian and English children's stories is compared. The findings of this study led to the classification of eight language-based models and eighteen strategybased models in children's storytelling in the field of spirituality. (See tables 1 & 2 below) Comparison of the use of these patterns in Persian and English fiction shows that some themes, such as a pattern of the paradigm of religion, a pattern of values and morality, a pattern of occurrence and accident, a pattern of direct conclusions and more symbolism are typically used in Persian stories. In contrast, the language-based model of the natural world, the language-based model of psychology, the pattern of environmental inspiration, and the pattern of using aesthetic sense are more commonly used in English stories. Moreover, some patterns - like the pattern of asking and accompanying adult companionship - are used in both languages, but their application is different in the differing cultural contexts of the books’ formation.
Table 1: Language-based Models Religious language-based model
Philosophy languagebased model
Natural world languagebased model
Values and ethics language -based model
Game language -based model
Self-living language-based model
Science language-based model
Psychology languagebased model
Table 2: Strategy-based Models Asking model
The model of companionship
Model of resignation and isolation
Despair and urgency model
Model of imagine and imagination
Model of coincidence and
Model of applying aesthetic sense
Explicit and obvious model
Model of implicit reception of
Direct conclusion model
Third person model
Model of dreaming
There are many religious stories written for children in Iran, but many of them do not have the necessary quality, and the authors mostly intend to convey Islamic and moral teachings to children and ignore the spiritual quality of the story. For this reason, in my research, I focused on spiritual, rather than religious, stories. Not every religious story will necessarily have a spiritual impact on the child. Comparison of world masterpieces of children's spiritual stories such as those by Douglas Wood with Iranian works showed that Iranian story writers should pay more attention to sources of spiritual inspiration in children's stories such as nature or children's inner experiences. In my opinion, the stories provide a platform for the child audience to explore with the author. In this exploration, sometimes the beauties of nature are inspired and sometimes the feeling of kindness with other human beings, sometimes the experience of the death of a loved one, connects the child to spiritual feelings, and sometimes the dream experience with a problem and the appearance of these issues in the child's story can enrich his experiences. For example, in the book "Good Night Commander" (2010 Groundwood Books), spiritual feelings are formed in the field of communication with others. Ahmad Akbarpour wrote this story in Persian.
It has been translated and published in English, Chinese, Korean and Istanbul Turkish.
This story is about a boy who lost his mother and one leg in bombing during the war and he is constantly thinking about his mother's war and about revenge. He is playing with his military toys and chooses one of his soldiers as the enemy commander. The game begins and the author tells the story as if the boy is fighting a real soldier. Eventually, when confronted with the enemy commander, the boy realises that he does not have one leg either. The boy says, “I am here to take revenge for my mother,” and the enemy commander tells him the same thing. The boy realises that they are both in that war for a reason. He then lends his prosthetic leg to the enemy commander to try it, and neither of them kills each other. The language the author uses to express the spiritual concepts in this story is the language of the game. In fact, the game has become a background for the child to experience enmity with someone who has hurt him. Then he realises that they are not enemies of each other: rather they are both together victims of war. Another language that Akbarpour uses in this story is the language of values and ethics. The relationship that is formed with the love of other human beings with them connects us to the moral values that are also reflected in this story. The strategy that Akbarpour has used to provide the space for this inner experience for the character of his story is resignation and isolation. In this story, the child plays alone and away from the adults. It is in this isolation that he confronts the imaginary commander of the enemy, and in these circumstances he finds the ability to recover human emotions of the type of empathy.
Imagination is another strategy used in this story. In terms of narrative logic, it is not possible for a child to fight an enemy commander in a real war; but using the strategy of imagination, this confrontation is reflected in a completely real way both in the text of the story and in the pictures. Ultimately, the consequence of this spiritual story, both for the character of the story and for the child audience, is peace, tranquility and a sense of empathy with other human beings. In fact, this story is written in praise of peace and introduces spirituality to the child through a sense of friendship with others. This theme is also found in English books, for example in “Old Turtle and the Broken Truth” (2001 Scholastic) by Douglas Wood. In this story, a girl is commissioned by a wise turtle to make people aware of the fact that they are all popular and no group should fight other groups with the idea of superiority over others. Therefore, we see that in addition to religious language, other languages can be used to create a spiritual effect. However, among Persian-speaking writers, Claire Jobert is one of those writers who specifically uses religious language to write children's stories. For example, the book "In Search of God" (2005 Kanoon) is about a squirrel who seeks God and asks the mountain, the butterfly and the sun about God in his path to find him. Searching, in the scenario of a spiritual journey, is one of the most important strategies of this author to create a spiritual story. She uses this strategy in her book "God's Cookies" (2008 Kanoon). This story is about a little bear who wants to thank God and bakes cookies for him. He then looks for God so he can give him the cookies; but he is forced to give all the cookies to the hungry animals that he encounters along the way. At the end of the story, a rainbow in the sky is a sign of God's approval of what the little bear has done. Thus, in this story, helping others is introduced as a way to thank God for children. In contrast to these stories, which speak directly of God in the story, the book "Yellow and Pink" (2013 Farrer, Strauss & Giroux) written by William Steig is about the child's relationship with God without directly referring to God. In fact, he used philosophical language instead of religious language in writing this work. This story is about two wooden dolls that have been painted and placed in the sun to dry. They wake up without knowing where they came from and what they are doing here. So they hypothesise about their creation and talk about whether their creation was accidental or whether they have a creator.
Eventually the puppet maker enters the story and takes the puppets that have already dried. In this way, the child is indirectly told that just as those dolls have a creator, man also has a creator and did not come into being by chance. Writers who write stories for children and teachers and educators who are interested in working on children's spirituality can benefit from the results of my research and the models I have provided; can better understand the world of children's spiritual stories; can write stories with awareness and cognition for children to take them on a spiritual journey instead of directed religious teaching; and can explore and share the child’s inner spiritual experience through the stories’ characters.
In my opinion, in religious communities, writers of children's literature should be careful not to underestimate their audience and not to write stories for the sole purpose of teaching religious topics to children. This is not just for child writers: teachers and educators should also be aware that direct teaching of religious topics to children does not lead to the formation of a spiritual identity in the child. Rather, it merely acquires awareness of, and learns and performs, stereotyped behaviours without experiencing any particular spiritual feeling. However, if we can increase the spiritual intelligence of children through indirect and artistic methods, they themselves will gradually gain inner spiritual experiences and establish their personal connection with existence.
Book Review The Awakened Brain: The new science of spirituality and our quest for an inspired life Lisa Miller, PhD (2021) NY: Random House pages 244 ISBN: 198485562X ISBN13: 9781984855626
This book is a must read for anyone interested in the relationship between spirituality, depression, and wellness. Lisa Miller, PhD shares how she discovered “the awakened brain, why it matters, and how we can cultivate it in daily life” (p. 10). It is also a book in which Miller shares her own journey in finding answers for healing adolescent depression, a growing health threat throughout the world. In order to accomplish all this, Miller has collected some ground breaking neurological studies that relate to her own work in spirituality and depression. Her explanations are clear, exciting, and easily applicable. Miller writes that neurological research is proving, “that the human spiritual self is 29% heredity, and 71% environment” (58). A more complete explanation of this can be found in chapter 4 which ends with this question “What if the elevated rates of addiction and depression…in teens were because young people were struggling to form spiritually and we weren’t supporting them?” (62) As an early childhood educator, this sentence speaks volumes to me. I am looking for ways to nurture children’s spirituality from birth in the hopes of helping to prevent some of the mental illness that Miller is describing. Miller, as any clinical psychologist would, is looking for a cure. Through her work she is offering all of us new findings that show that the spiritual and religious brain is capable of personal and long-lasting resiliency. In order to share her journey, Miller connects the research with her own life story - both personal and professional. This paraphrased vignette comes from Chapter 2. In it she describes one of her first residencies in her training toward becoming a clinical psychologist. Miller realises that there is no scheduled service for the upcoming holy day of Yom Kippur, a Jewish day of forgiveness. The hospital she was currently working in was in a very Jewish neighborhood in New York City, so she asks her supervisors if she might provide a time and space to gather. They met in the kitchen, just a small group of patients. At the very end, one of patients shared these words, I learned that “… I could be forgiven” (33). Throughout the book, she returns to this vignette as a source of many questions that help shape her work around spirituality and mental health. Miller later reflects on this Yom Kippur experience - the patients in attendance seemed to reflect a new “bright light (shining into their) darkest corners” (33).
“Something was happening in the back of that kitchen that wasn’t happening through the primary medical intervention of medication and psychotherapy” (33) Then, Miller formulates these questions; She asks, What is happening in the mind? Why do these moments seem to dissolve worries and calm stress? Could these moments be cultivated? Interestingly, Miller comes to similar questions after her morning exercise runs through the streets of New York City. She describes feeling the same bright lights personally within herself. Later in the book she begins to talk about the important role nature plays in supporting a healthy brain. She finds that a brain high on nature sometimes parallels the spiritual and religious brains. In chapter 6, Miller introduces the word synchronicity in relationship to her and her husband’s struggle to parenthood. She sees synchronicity “when two apparently disparate events are joined at the level of meaning or consciousness…. (as) sparks of inner knowing… (or when) flashes of meaning or insight … seem to arrive out of the blue” (93) The words echo a sense of spirituality for me. Miller’s vignette into parenthood ends with her asking this question, “What causes synchronicity” (96)? To find an answer to this question, Miller turns to quantum physics quoting that “all physical things behave like waves and particles” (99). Quantum physics offer Miller the complex lens she will need to reach the culmination of this book. For me, her ideas of quantum physic make me think of infants – in constant motion, maybe conscious maybe not, open, taking in all that is around them using their powerful brains. In quantum physics, the particles development from the movement of the waves. Maybe infants begin life in a wave state. Maybe it is the responsibility as parents to first love our children, keep them safe, and give them space and time to explore and experience life in this wave state. Maybe this is what children need in order to develop a positive and strong sense of self required for the development of an awakened brain. In the last several chapters everything gets pulled together into a complex and rich theory that looks beyond the awakened mind. In Chapter 12, Miller writes about discovering two modes of awareness. She begins with big questions… “How do we activate our spirituality and engage its protective power in our
brain and our lives?” (155). Her goal here was to find spiritual moments…a term I use in my own research (Schein, 2018). She and her colleagues use functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to find answers. In this chapter Miller writes about the provocation between developing a strong sense of self vs. being part of something bigger than self; a provocation I have not yet resolved and would love to talk more about!
The final four chapters is where her new theory comes together. Chapter 13 is titled, Integration is Key. Chapter 14 through chapter 16 are about progressive changes in our awakened brain – beginning with awakened attention, then awakened connection, and finally awakened heart. After reading this book, readers will have a clearer understanding as to how we are spiritually wired and how we can begin to nurture this spiritual brain in ourselves, our children, our students, and our patients for a healthier world. (Reviewed by Deb Schein)
Book Review The Little Engine That Could Author: Watty Piper, Walter Ritan Illustrator: Mateu Ages: 4-8 32 pages First published 1986
Reviewer: Rose Sanders
I grew up with my grandparents, aunts and uncles on a rural farm in Ontario, Canada. I spent my childhood working on the farm, playing cards and other games, and reading books with anyone who had the time. I loved reading. I was already reading on my own before I started school and through all the card and other board games that I played, my math skills were also advanced for my age. All these things led to me skipping a few grades in school, meaning I was always a few years younger than my classmates. This was never a problem until the 8th grade. After the summer vacation had ended and the new school-year began, things had really changed. My female friends were interested in boys, and my male friends were acting strange around us girls. My classmates were now teenagers, and socially, I was still a little kid. I needed a few moments longer to understand jokes and innuendos, and not being interested in boys yet, I couldn't participate in a lot of conversations which in turn led to me becoming more and more unsure of myself. Social groups were forming based on things like popularity, rich kids/poor kids, sporters/non-sporters. As a strong farm kid, I had always played a lot of sports with the boys, but they were acting silly around me. I was feeling more and more like the little kid that I was. One day a simple children's book brought me the help that I needed. I had already completed most of the grade 8 curriculum when I was in grade 7, and because of this I didn't have much to do in the classroom and I was really bored at school. In order to keep me busy and help the teachers at the same time, I was asked to help in the kindergarten class until lunchtime every day. I helped the teachers with activities, read to the students while they were eating, prepared things in the class, and I loved every minute of it. One day a little girl brought a book for me to read, The Little Engine That Could. As I started to read, I thought, what a cutesy story, not something I would have ever liked as a child. I continued to read the story, and in story the red train breaks down, she can't do what she wants to and bring the food and toys to the children on the other side of the mountain. I felt a little sorry for her. A big shiny train comes along, and they ask him for help, and I thought, he's just like the rich kids in the class, too good to help others. Then a big strong train comes along, and they ask him for help, but just like my jock friends that were now too tough to play sports with a little girl, the big strong train was too tough to help the red train.
Next comes along a little blue train, always working hard and trying to help others where she can, I could completely relate to this train. Not only was my favorite colour blue, but I was always helping others, trying hard at everything I did, and at this point in the story I was completely relating to the troubles of these trains. The little blue train was uncertain that she could help, but she tried anyways, and while she worked to get over the mountain, she kept saying to herself, “I think I can”. This really touched me, and every time I started to doubt myself afterwards, I would think of that little train and her mantra, “I think I can”. It became my rock whenever I doubted myself. A simple children's story that helped me get through a lot of tough moments. Years later when I was in college I was working as a babysitter for a little girl that was born premature. In kindergarten Madison was sometimes teased because she was so small, she also had a hard time in the gym because she was often a bit small for the apparatuses they were using. I went to the library and borrowed The Little Engine That Could. Madison was in tears at the end of the story, “I am just like that little train”. I told her to think about the little train every time that she thought that she couldn’t do something. A week later I babysat Madison again, she came to the door happier than I had seen her in months, she also had a present for me...my own copy of the book. Her mother thanked me, because of that book her daughter now had the confidence to try anything. Something so simple changed not only my life, but Madison’s as well.
Our modern culture demands a lot from children at a very young age. We start testing them in preschool/ junior kindergarten/kindergarten, teach them to behave and dress “accordingly” conforming to the current socially accepted norms as well as enrolling them in after school programs, sports and lessons. The combined pressure created would give us as adults increased stress levels and challenge our self-worth, and we are (theoretically) mature enough to deal with it.
Take the time to think about what this does to children who are yet to develop a strong sense of self and self-worth. How can we help children to deal with these pressures and develop a strong sense of self? The age-old answer is through stories. A lot of morals and life lessons can be learned through simple stories, stories like “The Little Engine That Could". A story where children can easily relate to the emotions and plight of the characters, and that provides a way for children to deal with these situations will help give them guidelines they need in dealing with similar situations in the “real world”.
Now more than ever, it is important to take the time to read to our children, you never know which story may touch the life a child. Never underestimate the power of a good book. Rose Sanders
Spiritual by Nature Dag van de Kinderspiritualiteit 2022 A one day conference in Nijmegen, the Netherlands 24th June 2022
‘Children are spiritual by nature’ Most contemporary researchers would agree with this. Culture, family and education play an important role in how a child’s spirituality develops, and in how they find a language to express their experiences, their questions and insights. But it starts with something that is already there. On the fifth Dutch Day of Children’s Spirituality, we will explore connections between ‘nature’ and spirituality. Is there such a thing as innate spirituality? If so: what is it? Where do children spontaneously seek and find spiritual nourishment? What do direct experiences of the natural world do with the inner world of children? Are outdoor activities by definition spiritual activities? And what can parents and educators do to support rather than disturb the process of spiritual development?
Special guest is Dr. Deborah Schein from Minneapolis (USA) who will introduce the theme to us. In her talk she will focus on young children and the importance of nature for their spiritual development. There will be two rounds of workshops. Some of the workshops will be outdoors – naturally! Working languages will be Dutch and English. This event is organised by Stichting Kind en Spiritualiteit and Oblimon. It was originally planned for January 2022, but postponed because of Covid.
For more information: www.oblimon.nl or email@example.com
International Association for Children’s Spirituality 2022 Virtual International Symposium Online via Zoom 14-15th & 18-19th July 2022 The 2022 virtual symposium will focus on a variety of shifting landscapes in children’s spirituality and how the research and practices of participants are responding to these changes. We have invited papers and online presentations that address children’s spirituality in light of, the global COVID-19 pandemic new educational policies changing contexts for faith education sociocultural marginalization (because of race, class, gender, physical or cognitive limitations, etc.) All projects will highlight children’s voices when possible. The symposium consists of a series of scholarly and practical conversations. These will be posted ahead of time and then discussed in live Zoom panel conversations. Workshops (20-25 minute maximum) will also be posted online so that participants can access them in advance and then talk about their experiences in a live Zoom session. Live sessions will be scheduled at various times across four days to maximize opportunities for participation from wherever participants are located. Most sessions will be in English; we hope to offer at least one Spanish language session as well.
General Registration There is no charge for attending the symposium. You need not provide a paper, presentation, or workshop to participate. If you prefer to read/listen/watch the submitted work and then join in the live Zoom discussions, send your name and affiliation(s), geographic location, and email to IACS@RealKidsRealFaith.org by 1 July 2022. (Put ‘IACS Symposium Registration’ in the subject line.) We will send you a schedule of events and a Zoom link prior to the first day of the conference.
The International Association for Children’s Spirituality seeks to promote and support research and practice in relation to children’s spirituality within education and wider contexts of children’s care and wellbeing. We understand spirituality broadly and inclusively as having relation to the religious and beyond the religious. We encourage holistic approaches to children’s spirituality and personal development across a variety of disciplines, professions, organizations and communities. To learn more about the IACS, please visit www.children spirituality.org.
Children’s Spirituality: Shifting Landscapes
Soul to Soul We love discovering where our readers are. And we’d love to hear from you! Through the statistical analyses available to us from our on-line publications on Issuu, we know that our three largest readerships are in the Netherlands, the UK and the USA. But we have logged individual readers and small groups of visitors from Finland, Israel, Italy, Peru, Philippines amongst many other countries. Thank you all for reading our journal. Please pass on the link to your colleagues and friends. Please also get in touch with us and let us know what you think of our Journal. Many thanks to Jeffrey Schein for sending us our first ever “Readers’ Letter” firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Editors, The article concerning death and Halloween (issue 3) raised many important issues. The broad reach of cross-cultural perspectives was impressive. I was struck, however, as a researcher whose own identity is deeply Jewish and deeply universal by the lack of an important Jewish perspective. Perhaps the most telling phrase in Judaism capturing the relationship between the living and dead is what is placed on a tombstone and what is recited at the yearly commemoration of the person's death (the yahrzeit) yehi neshema z'ror bitzror ha-hayim, “may their soul be bound up in the bond of life.” The role of memory is pivotal in the Jewish understanding of death. Even the prayer about death recited on these occasions allows sweet memories of the person and awareness of God's presence in the universe to be the focus of the prayer. Ironically, death is not mentioned in the prayer about death. Jeffrey Schein email@example.com
desire for dramatic morality tales and romances. https:// www.theguardian.com/books/2010/feb/25/teenage-fiction -death 4 Chang, Candy 2013 Before I Die St. Martin’s Griffin New York 5 https://beforeidieproject.com/ 6 Chang 2013:271 7 Lor, Jean 2018 Death Education is Life Education Institute of Policy Studies https://ipscommons.sg/death-education-is -life-education/ accessed 09.03.2022 8 https://traumahealinginstitute.org/
Fearless Human Beings pp.28-37
Resources, Notes and Links Spirituality in the Classroom pp.4-9 Amy Chapman (with Wendy Woods, Arlène E. Casimir, and Lisa Miller are at the Spirituality Mind Body Institute, Teachers College, Columbia University. spiritualitymindbody.tc.columbia.edu The Spirituality Mind Body Institute “exists to integrate spiritual life into our society - in our institutions, in our boardrooms, our classrooms, and our homes. Our SBMI team works to contribute towards a more loving, spiritually aware, and positive society.”
Jewish Early Childhood Spirituality pp.10-17 Howard Deitcher is at the Hebrew University’s Melton Centre for Jewish Education. He is a former Director of the Centre. He serves as the Senior Director of Legacy Heritage Teacher Institutes and is currently directing educational projects in five countries worldwide.
Challenging Perspectives pp.18-23 Steve has been a School Chaplain since 1982 and Pastor of a Baptist Church since 1986. He also lectures at the Scottish Baptist College (University of the West of Scotland). His lectures are on Pastoral Care and on Education Chaplaincy. 1 https://issuu.com/revsteve59/docs/soul_to_soul_3 2 Zusak, Markus 2008 The Book Thief Black Swan Publishing 3 Others in society were also wondering about the current fascination of teens with ‘dark’ fiction. Book publishers argued it was less about fascination with death and more a
This article is written by Rene Berends and supplemented by Rosanne de Vries. René Berends is Chief Editor of the Dutch journal Dalton Visie (‘Dalton vision’). Until recently René was teacher-trainer, Dalton-specialist and educator at Saxion University of Applied Sciences in Zwolle, the Netherlands. Rosanne de Vries is a member of the editorial team of Soul to Soul. She is a former fifth grade teacher at a Dalton School in Nijmegen, NL. Rosanne recently became a teacher-trainer and educator of Religious and Worldview Education at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in Deventer, NL. This article is also published in adapted form in the May 2022 issue of Dalton Visie. Reading further Gert Biesta, ‘Risking Ourselves in Education: Qualification, Socialization, and Subjectification Revisited’, Educational Theory 70, nr. 1 (2020): 89–104, https://doi.org/10.1111/ edth.12411. Piet Van der Ploeg, Dalton plan: Origins and theory of Dalton education. Vol. 8. Deventer: Saxion Dalton University Press, 2013. Dalton International (English): https://dalton.nl/ internationaal/dalton-international/ Footnotes 1 Reform pedagogy is a child-oriented way of teaching. It originated in the early 1900s. Five types of education have been developed from this: Freinet education by Célestin Freinet, Montessori education from Maria Montessori, Dalton Education from Helen Parkhurst, Jenaplan Education by Peter Petersen, Waldorf Schools by Rudolf Steiner. 2 Subjectification is a term that is introduced by Gert Biesta (2020). He speaks of three aims in education: qualification, socialization and subjectification. The last concept is the way a child becomes someone. It is simultaneous to personal development or personalization, but more to how you are (towards the world and others) than to what you are (identity). 3 Symbols and rituals in a Dalton-classroom can be simple, like celebrating birthdays or religious holidays together. Other than that, parents are very importan. They are invited to theme-openings and presentations at the end of projects. Parents are stimulated to help in the classroom and be part of the community a school should be.
Intrinsic Spirituality pp.38-47 Kieran O’Brien is the director of Ministory, a storytelling agency based in Wales that specialises in helping organisations with a cause through storytelling consultancy
and developing storytelling resources. Kieran has worked extensively on a wide range of resources for schools based on faith and spirituality, as well as ecological and social issues. His recent work includes developing a range of animations and materials to support NICER’s Faith in the Nexus research project on children’s spirituality, as well as CAFOD’s new LiveSimply award for schools based on integral ecology. For more information on the ‘Faith in the Nexus project’ here are links for a video and the accompanying report: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGNXewx4wtQ&t=4s (video) https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/ download/6310156f67050c5078e044f77146b2cba797858f a9ba237417fbb0760f6436bd/3650674/Faith%20in% 20the%20Nexus%20Report%202020.pdf (report) And here is an assembly tool kit for teachers in a church school that includes an animation for younger children and parents to understand about spirituality: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4vXynkkhDU&t=2s https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/ download/80796c91d05c65665c6ad3a626d7899572f49874 a9dae8ec35bda2f66aa9679b/3514960/ Nexus_Teachers_Action_Pack.pdf (action pack) https://nicer.org.uk/faith-in-the-nexus/the-nexus-toolkit (the ppt to accompany the video – choose teachers action pack from this link)
Children’s Stories as a Bridge to Spirituality pp.48-53 Fateme Ghane was born in 1992 in Iran. She has a PhD in Persian language and literature and a Master's degree in children's literature. In 2009, she won the gold medal in the National Olympiad of Literature among Iranian students, and in 2013 earned a bronze medal in the national Olympiad literature at a student level. Since 2012, she has been working as a creative writing instructor with children at the Children and Adolescents Intellectual Development Centre. Her favorite work area is the literature of children and the history of Persian literature. After this research, which was presented as a comparative study, she would like to work on the characteristics of a child's spiritual story as an independent genre. After identifying, extracting and categorising the characteristics of this genre, she plans to present this in a separate study as a book.
The Little Engine That Could pp.58-61 Rose Sanders grew up in a rural area in Ontario Canada and after graduating college, she moved to the Netherlands. She worked for 15 years as an Early Childhood Educator and then moved on to become a kindergarten teacher at a school in a socially and economically challenged part of the city. She now works at the same school as a remedial teacher for the junior and senior kindergarten children, helping them to a brighter future.
Picture credits Front Cover - Rodolfo Clix Pexels.4423448 pp.2-3 Editorial - Ron Lach Pexels.10653937 pp.4-5 Blue dragon - Eva Elijas Pexels.6068535 pp.6-7 Blue Dragon 2 - Eva Elijas Pexels.6068494 pp.8-9 Prismatic rainbow - Adrien Olichon Pexels.2931242 pp.10-11 Hands around Havdalah candle - David Starkopf: Havdallah, Moishe House, Oneg pp.12-13 Split picture of two children - pictures of Etai and Roni, used by permission pp.14-15 Amit smelling the spices - picture of Amit used by permission pp.18-19 Boy in Forest - Lucas Piero Pexels.312491 pp.20-21 Boy’s shadowed face - pexels-Jano Gepiga Pexels.110881 p.22 Before I die - Before_I_Die_I_Want_To_ (8075337941).jpg wikimedia p.23 Before I die - Megan Bucknall Unsplash.K05jLvJACiA pp.24-25 Girl sitting in doorway, covering face - Pixabay Pexels.236215 pp.26-27 Boy somersaulting and books flying - João Jesus Pexels.3183752 pp.28-29 Fearless Girl facing down Charging Bull - Daniel Lloyd Blunk Fernandez Unsplash.vrSKrUEZsDY p.31 Fearless girl statue - Hyunwon Jang Unsplash.yjEq_kGuyRQ pp.32-33 Four Boys playing with ball in forest - Robert Collins Unsplash pp.34-35 Tree with roots and sun shining through branches - Jeremy Bishop Unsplash.EwKXn5CapA4 pp.36-37 Blue waves - Pixabay Pexels.355288 pp.38-39 Finger touching water - Isandréa Carla Pexels.2114703 pp.40-41 Sun through ice - pexels-Ivan Babydov Pexels.7788117 p.43 Girl in forest with fairy lights - sandra-seitamaajidZAKNXBek-unsplash pp.44-45 Girl jumping in field - Eleanor Brown Photography pp.46-47 View through lens ball - pexels-Arthur Ogleznev Pexels.1296265 pp.48-49 Children reading text - Jeni Bate, used by permission p.51 Supplied by Fateme Ghane pp.52-53 Children under bedcovers - Yaroslav Shuraev, Pexels.5608541 pp.54-55 Brain Coral, Great Barrier Reef - David Clode Unsplash.eOSqRq2Qm1 p.57 Readers in Bookshop - Pixabay Pexels.256431 pp.58-59 Blue Toy Train in grass - Daniel Nettesheim Pexels.1119234 p.61 - Steam train on viaduct - Roland Losslein Unspalsh.DmDYX_ltI48 p.62 Child on forest path - Caleb Oquendo, Pexels p.65 Child peering through blackout screen - Jeni Bate, used by permission pp.66-67 Child shadow on furniture - Jeni Bate, used by permission p.68 Child with Chick on shoulder - Jeni Bate, used by permission Back Cover: Jeni Bate, used by permission