Perceptions of Spirituality and Spiritual Development in Education held by Teachers and Students on Teacher Training Courses
University of Wales
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Current legislation requires schools in England and Wales to promote the spiritual development of their pupils. The non-statutory guidance provided by various bodies has resulted in broad and inclusive definitions of the ‘spiritual’ and ‘spiritual development’ which combines both the religious and the secular and applies to all areas of the curriculum and school life. The world of academia has responded to this quasi-official guidance with varying degrees of approval to downright hostility, exposing the pretence that all agree with the current definitions and guidance. This thesis examines, by means of a cross-sectional survey, using qualitative and quantitative data gathered by means of questionnaire and interview, the perceptions of a sample of student teachers (428) on teacher training courses and qualified teachers (76) of the meanings of 'spirituality', 'spiritual experience' and 'spiritual development'. Although different viewpoints emerge, some underlying themes can be discerned. 'Spirituality' is conceived as the acquisition of a set of principles to guide everyday living, which may be derived from a religion, from a personal philosophy or from beliefs concerning morality, relationships with others, and an increased awareness of life and the world. The 'spiritual development' of pupils is seen to imply their freedom to search for and decide the principles they will adopt. The views of respondents on the extent to which 'spiritual development' should form part of the teacher's role are also reported, and it is suggested that current terminology associated with ‘spirituality’ be replaced with terms which students and teachers can more readily understand.
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