Spirituality and Holistic Education

We believe spirituality is integral to Holistic Education. For many, however, spirituality is either consigned to religion or ignored as irrelevant to education. The question naturally arises: Is it possible to include a secular, non-sectarian spirituality in education? And, as spirituality resists exact definition, how can we approach it and bring it into education?

Guests of Meetings with Remarkable Educators tackle these questions directly. Here is a brief sampling of insights that emerged during recording.

Tobin Hart, professor of psychology at West Georgia University, focuses on the challenges of bringing spirituality to education. His interview is a treasure chest of understanding. A brief excerpt:

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It is so tricky, isn’t it [to bring spirituality and education together]. I mean, in a largely secular world to be able to talk about that. I think the thing though that is really common, and that folks can pretty easily get is that we have both moments, and feelings, and also values that are deeply meaningful…. And particularly when there's a spirituality that's really about things like authenticity, and individuality, and creative expression, and then there's a part of a spirituality that's also about interconnection, and receiving, and surrender and that kind of thing.

Tobin goes on to talk about “embodied spirituality,” and how that can be actualized in classrooms for all ages.

Josette and I have had the honor to facilitate Rites of Passage for children, adults, and whole families. We have always wished that they become incorporated in schools. Thankfully, Rachel Kessler led the way with the Mysteries program for high school students in New York City. Rachel has passed away, so you can imagine our delight in finding Shauna Sorce and her work with middle school children and Rites of Passage. She sees this a way to bring spirituality to education. In the interview, she specifies why she does it:

I'm doing it because I didn't have a Rite of Passage as a teenager. I had this deep, heartfelt longing for a mentor or a guide…somebody that I could trust, and put my faith in, and believe in and go to 100%. And I didn't have that… I longed for some kind of an initiation…and a wise elder to guide me. And for lack of having that soul in me nurtured through school, or through home, I sought it out on my own, and it wasn't always in the safest or positive, nurturing ways.

Marni Binder, professor and educator of young children, spent 23 years teaching before she “realized something was missing.” Although she was already profoundly active in social justice, loved by her students, and secure in her profession, she nevertheless experienced an extraordinary transformation. Here’s a brief anecdote from her interview describing a moment of realization:

I remember being in a meeting with my primary teachers and our Ministry of Education in Ontario in Canada stated that we have to teach the whole child. I thought, "Wait a minute." When I asked people if they could tell me, what they thought that meant? Really what they were talking about was integrating. They were talking about some of the domains, but the spirit of the child was missing. And so that to me, that piece of identity and soul, and who that child is, which is so wrapped up in the spirituality of that child, that was the missing piece.

She continues on to describe how she changed her practice based on this insight.

I could go on and on. There’s Jack Miller bringing meditative practices to teachers in training in a way that has influenced literally thousands of educators. And Paul Freedman speaking of spirituality as naturally emerging in children when the school creates the proper nurturing environment. In short, every interview contains insights, practical suggestions, real life stories, and appreciation for integrating spirituality and education.

We look forward to sharing these with you, and for your feedback on these ideas. Meetings with Remarkable Educators is about connection and community, which is vital to our inquiry and appreciation of spirituality in education. We wish you our very best.

- Ba Luvmour

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