Mr Kevin Edward McDermott

 

Methods of Educational Enquiry

University of Bath

January 2004

 

A Study of the ways in which Spirtituality is understood by students in a Catholic school using two types of educational research

 

Contents Page 1

 

Introduction Page 2

 

The Aim of the Research Page 2

 

Structure of the Research Page 2

 

Results of the Research

Questionnaire 1, Page 5

 

Questionnaire 2 Page 6

 

Interviews Page 8

 

Conclusions Page 9

 

References Page 11

 

Appendix 1 Prologue Page 13

 

Appendix 2 The Spiritual Page 17

 

Appendix 3 So how might we go about finding out about the spiritual life of a school? Page 22

 

Appendix 4 Page 23

 

Appendix 5 Questionnaire 1 Page 23

 

Appendix 6 Questionnaire 2 Page 26

 

Appendix 7 Results of Questionnaire 2 Page27

 

Appendix 8 Page 35

 

Appendix 9 Page 36

Introduction

 

The nature of spirituality and the rationale for Religious Education in the United Kingdom as understood by religious believers and atheists are issues which impact directly on this assignment. Developments in psychological, educational and philosophical thinking have also had an impact on how spirituality is understood. I have tried to consider the pertinent issues through the appendices.

 

The Aim of the Research

 

The aim of this research is to see how my own teaching practice in the classroom can be improved by increased awareness of how children understand their own spirituality. What the ‘spiritual’ involves is explored in the appendices 2 and 3. We will gather evidence from two sources; two questionnaires for students to complete and interviews. From this I hope to establish how children perceive their own spiritual development and where they see opportunities for spiritual growth in school. We will then be in a position to see how their views corroborate with or are at variance with the concepts of spirituality we have considered. I will attempt to follow the principles outlined by D. Ary et al. (1972) and L.Cohen et al. (2003)that research should be scientific, systematic, scholarly and open to modification and correction in the face of new evidence.

 

Structure of the Research

 

As C. and J. Erricker (1996) point out, quantitative research is not necessarily a methodology that will be appropriate in the field of spirituality and Religious Education; a qualitative approach is preferable, grounding the research in the data collected. Any research into religious belief is bound to raise profound questions about the ethics of such an enterprise. On the one hand it is legitimate to gather evidence about spiritual and religious beliefs that people hold. However students may legitimately feel that questions pry into private areas of their lives. There is also the matter of coercion. It is possible for me to make students complete a questionnaire in class. This would have the advantage of quick and efficient returns but as L. Cohen et al (2003) ask, should a student have the right to withdraw from such a set of questions?

 

A word needs to be said here about Action Research. I am not dismissing it as a research tool – indeed I can see that out of this work there will be a need to enter into a self evaluation of my own practice in order to develop a curriculum which is more deeply spiritual; but for me the starting needs to have an objectivity beyond that which Action Research seems to offer.

 

I am proposing to use two sets of questionnaires. The questions in the interviews will arise out of the questionnaires, but will have a similar structure. Within this process the aim is to look for patterns of belief or behaviour which could, through wider research be corroborated or negated. The question of how many students should be sampled is determined at this juncture by time and the school within which I teach.

 

The first questionnaire follows a ‘Likert scale’ model, using rating scales to establish how students feel about certain areas of their spiritual life within school. In this context they are a useful tool, as they allow us to

 

                        ‘..fuse measurement with opinion, quantity and quality.’

L. Cohen et al (2003) 253

In research aimed at discovering how students feel about their own spirituality, such a tool seems invaluable.

 

The questionnaire I used is presented in Appendix 5

 

The structure of the questionnaire is, as Cohen et al (2003) point out, of great importance. The first question is designed to engage students in the essence of what Spirituality might be rooted in, and for them to then move into areas they would both understand and feel comfortable with. In practice, as we shall see, I underestimated the lack of understanding of the word ‘beliefs’ and it would have been more helpful to start with one of the more ‘concrete’ questions such as 6 or a question which asked about feelings or gifts. Hindsight is a wonderful gift, and it is easy to see how mistakes could have been avoided, but it would be fair to say that a few (2 or 3) in each class found the first statement difficult to access and this put them off for a moment. Once it was explained to them they were happy to cooperate.

 

This was just one of the concerns I had as the students completed this questionnaire. There were several others which I think we should be mindful of before considering the results. The first is the integrity of the replies. Whilst most took the exercise sensibly, considered the questions and responded thoughtfully there were a few in each class who saw it as an opportunity to exercise a voice by being as negative as possible, not because they believed it, but because it was funny. In a sample like this 1 or 2 children who take such a view can seriously jeopardise the whole exercise, but it occurred to me as they were completing this in class that the democratisation of education is a long way off when children who are given a voice for a moment then abuse the opportunity. The difficulty as L. Cohen et al (2003) suggests is that the views expressed are not those of the participant – in this case, the student. All we can do here is to try and reduce the impact of this by testing out hypothesis from one questionnaire against other sources to see if what pattern emerges.

 

The second problem of any Likert scale questionnaire is a mathematical one. If an odd number of options are given, there is a danger that most will opt for the middle because they do not want to be seen as giving an extreme answer. However, if an even number is used it may force a respondent into opting in a way that does not reflect how they genuinely feel. This is why as L. Cohen et al (2003) point out, it is necessary to test out conclusions in other ways, to avoid making wild claims which may be based on a false response because of the way the numbers are set up on the sheet. Really all we can say at this stage is that such questionnaires are useful tools in establishing attitudes and a priority of values, but the conclusions have to be verified using other research tools. In asking ‘To what extent’ I invited students to make an evaluative judgement about their experience in school.

 

The advantage of such a questionnaire is that it enables for a quick, efficient response from a number of participants. It requires them to make a judgement about an issue quickly and provides me with instant data and for comparisons to be made in an objective and easy way between (in this case) two classes. It also covers the areas of spirituality as we have hitherto defined it. This is really important, since having defined an area of experience in the curriculum; we now want to establish the way in which children perceive this. The major disadvantage as it stands at the moment is the language which maybe inaccessible to younger students.

 

The second questionnaire allows the respondent more flexibility, but is more demanding on their time and to some extent their patience. It may also irritate some, as they may feel that their experience is not catered for. That said, as Cohen et al comment,

 

‘It is the open-ended responses that might contain the gems of information that might not have been caught in the questionnaire.’

L. Cohen et al (2003) 255

 

 

This in itself seems a legitimate reason for exploring with children how they understand their spiritual development. A word is necessary about the assumptions I know I have made. The context in which I work is a Roman Catholic School. Many of the questions asked could not be asked in other settings because they assume an experience of a community of faith. It assumes because it is true that all students have had some ‘exposure’ to the concept of a theistic God. I have tried although I may have failed – to engage students in their ‘spiritual story’. This is an ambitious – even audacious task and yet children are so often prepared to tell their story.

 

 

The second questionnaire was designed to be a combination of open ended and multiple choice questions. The complexity of the issues with which we are dealing require us at some point to try and cover the range of likely responses, accepting that there may of course be others. The open ended question is essential for gathering data in religious or spiritual issues. It gives the respondent the opportunity to engage with the issues in a way they feel comfortable with and for them to be honest in their replies. It was here that some real ‘gems’ were gathered. That said, interpretation of this data was far from easy. It is one thing to score marks on a Likert Scale questionnaire, but quite another to group like phrased answers and say that this was the feeling of the group. In short, converting opinions into numbers is not a legitimate activity to engage in for a researcher. That said, if the responses confirm a trend in another questionnaire, it may fairly be argued that this is a reasonable use of open ended questions.

 

Multiple Choice questions bring advantages – and hazards of their own. For our purposes, in order to minimise the possible range of answers, in some cases a multiple choice option seemed appropriate. I tried to ensure that categories were discreet, and although there should have been no overlap, it is possible that in some cases, (eg Family/Church), there will be members who fall into both. This in itself presented real problems interpreting the data, as on occasions students sometimes gave one than response. This is not to say that the exercise was worthless, and as a rough guide it was helpful, but without the Likert Scale questionnaire it would have been difficult to see any pattern emerging.

 

The first question of this second questionnaire is designed to get respondents engaged, and although it has a ‘cultural bias’ it enabled them to tell, just for a moment, something of their belief, and to show in question 2 how they had changed, if at all, their beliefs. The responses are shown question by question to enable comparisons to be made, in order that we are able to verify the hypothesis we have put forward (Appendix 7)

 

If asking such questions is legitimate; which I believe it is, the accounts given will present me with a problem of how to present the data. Perhaps the best way would simply allow the students to tell their story, through a process of editing by myself? The key intention is to find a pattern, and whilst this will clearly emerge from the first questionnaire, it maybe that the second is more difficult to quantify but offers us deeper insight into the minds of children.

 

Results of the Research

 

Questionnaire 1

 

The questionnaire was given to two teaching groups in December 2003. The first group were an above ‘average’ Year Eight group and the second were a mixed ability Year Seven class. The questions were explained if students were unclear about their meaning and the researcher was the class teacher. The results are shown in Appendix 5.

 

The aim was to help me discover the attitudes towards particular aspects of spirituality within school as identified earlier in this work.

 

 

The combined table (Appendix 5) is perhaps the most useful in seeing a ‘pattern’ emerging across two teaching groups. Overall there appears to be satisfaction at the opportunities offered in school for Spiritual Development, where a response of ‘3’ is satisfactory. In three of the categories there is higher than average satisfaction; thinking about beliefs, growing up and developing gifts. At this stage the results are reassuring, but more questions emerge out of these figures which we need to ‘test’ against our second questionnaire. We need to verify a pattern which suggests that students are on the whole satisfied with the opportunities given to them in school for Spiritual Development.

 

It would be fair to say that the second questionnaire was structured to try and establish if a pattern could be established.

 

Questionnaire 2

 

The second questionnaire invited students to give a response. The full set of questions and responses can be found in Appendices 6 and 7.

 

The reason for the first question was to engage the students in telling a little of their own story. This summary barely does justice to some of the responses I received, but some kind of ‘grouping’ of answers is necessary if we are to use this second questionnaire as verification of what we found in the first and also to help us make sense of the collective view. What is interesting is how the older children gave me an image or picture of God as a man on a cloud, whilst the younger children responses were more varied. It raises the question of whether we learn that as young child we should have had this image, and therefore we say we do. The younger children, by contrast were more creative and imaginative in their responses with mention of light, leader, kingship and love to highlight just a few. Kohlberg (1981) has tried to show that moral development is developmental, it happens in stages. Perhaps the same is true of Spiritual Development. If so, in wondering where some of these ideas of an ageing man in the sky come from we might be guided by Kohlberg when he remarks;

 

‘Actually , as soon as we talk with children about morality we find that they have many ways of making judgements that are not ‘internalised’ from the outside and that do not come in any direct and obvious way from parents, teachers or even peers.’

L.Kohlberg (1981)16

 

This observation helps because it may be deep within the collective consciousness of society that such an idea exists and that this understanding is then transposed onto a childish image of what God is like, whilst the reality is that young children see God in a more vibrant and energising way. This is the reality we find in the second set of answers, Here we begin to see a little of their current feelings and beliefs about God. They describe him as ‘spirit’, ‘light’ and ‘energy’. Similar words to how the Year 7 class described their belief as younger children. What can be said is that in both classes and in both answers to questions 1 and 2 a significant number wrote of a deeply personal relationship with God. What I felt I had missed here was the journey of that relationship – the narrative that these short comments tried to crystallise into some meaning. This is the value of narrative that Clandinin and Connelly. (2000) point to.. That said, it would require resources and time that I do not have at my disposal. So did these answers validate anything? They provide us with a richer, if more complex picture of children’s beliefs and confirm that children are certainly considering and reflecting upon their beliefs. The extent to which school helps this process is what we should consider.

 

The third question was a thinly veiled attempt to find this out; and it revealed what I think many would expect; that parents, family and teachers exercise a degree of influence over what children believe and that they are aware that this is happening from a relatively young age. This certainly concurs with the first survey and helps us to see with whom spiritual development takes place, and to some extent where.(ie the family and the school). The next stage is for us to consider what happens in school.

 

As we have already mentioned, it would be surprising if Religious Education did not make a significant contribution to the spiritual development of students. A short consideration of what Religious Education constitutes is necessary. (See Appendix 8)

 

Most students felt that they had an opportunity to consider what God is like and this is reassuring for both myself and my colleagues. That said, there were some who felt that Religious Education was not helping them in this area, and it may be because the curriculum is driven by too few questions and too much rather densely packed blocks of facts.

 

Religious Education is not the only subject to make claims to be developing student’s spiritual values and awareness. So where did students find opportunities for reflection on God? The overwhelming answer was in the Chapel, although a few mentioned assemblies, Mass and Confession. This could have been one of those questions where I had one thing in mind but they took it in a rather different way, but it does affirm the sacredness of the Chapel and this in itself is a good thing – to have space for reflection and prayer.

 

In asking the question about where they preferred to pray I hoped to ascertain whether school was a place where prayer happened, or a community in which they liked to pray. The majority saw churches and bedrooms as preferential to school. There could be many reasons for this – it may be that a faith community (ie a church) is a community which exists for the purpose of prayer, whilst educational communities (ie schools) have other functions and reasons for existing. Also, the family would be for many children a natural community of prayer, whilst the school an artificial construct which attempts to bond its members spiritually through ritual and prayer. If a large number do not find prayer in school helpful – and those that do pray prefer to pray in church, then staff must address the of the quality of prayer in the school community and find ways of improving it. J. White, (1996) in his paper ‘Education, spirituality and the whole child: a humanist perspective’, makes the point that when a corporate act of worship is entered into it assumes that all present share a belief in the deity being prayed to.

 

The extent to which such an assumption can be made within a Catholic school will depend upon the number of believing Catholics in the school. The essential area for us as a school to consider here is the quality of prayer which should have the same high standards as teaching and learning.

 

Finally we asked students what was important to students and why. The answers to these questions are in the appendices and once again the richness and depth of their answers are represented in the briefest of forms, masking perhaps their stories and narratives. The spiritual is as we have said, concerned with a prioritisation of values; in other words it has a moral angle. The important things for those in the sample were overwhelmingly parents and friends. That was not surprising and it was encouraging to see how children vocalised their reasoning with a lot mentioning love, comfort and care. The other consideration here are those other things mentioned, which in year 8 indicate maturation and an increased awareness of their place among others. (E.g. skateboarding, sex, guitar), and their relationship to them.

 

Interviews

The purpose of the interviews with students was to verify the pattern of responses established through the written questionnaire. The prioritisation of values and areas of experience offered by the school needed to be confirmed if the research could be said to have any value. A second and different kind of data will either strengthen or compel me to reconsider the conclusions I am coming to. The essential aim of interviews, as Cohen. et al. (2003) point out is to establish the truth and validity of the claims made through a process of triangulation in order that the conclusions be based on rigorous and methodical study

 

The advantages of interviews are that they allow the researcher the opportunity and freedom to explore issues, beliefs or values which may not be possible through written data. They also offer the researcher the opportunity to pick up misunderstandings and focus questions to avoid unnecessary confusion. That said, there are inherent weaknesses with interviews which Cohen. et al (2003) list and they need to be acknowledged. The sample group may have a bias which is not reflected in a wider sample group, the interviewer can sway the answers given through body language or voice inflection, and even the place of the interview.

 

In spite of these concerns, interviewing is a really useful tool in gathering data, and particularly where discussion of spiritual or religious beliefs are concerned and it enabled me, for a brief moment to listen attentively to my students.

 

The two interviews conducted took place in February 2004. The first was with six Year Seven students. They were taken from two tutor groups and represented a ‘broad range’ of intellectual ability as measured through Cognitive Ability Tests. The second interview was with a group of Year Eleven students, all from the same tutor group, again with a range of ability represented.

 

The structure of the interviews followed a similar pattern although the questions were not phrased in exactly the same way for both years, and some exemplification was necessary in both interviews.

 

Structure

In both interviews the questions were driven by what the questionnaires had suggested. The questions asked are in Appendix 9, as are a summary of the responses given.

 

 

Conclusions

 

I have used two methods of educational enquiry, questionnaires and interviews to conduct small scale research into an area of school life – spirituality – which is of profound importance to me on both a personal and a professional level. The research was conducted between October 2003 – February 2004. As an Educational Enquiry I have tried to ensure that it has been scientific, systematic, scholarly and open to correction. Furthermore I have attempted to show that the work has a process of validation within it by using more than one kind of research tool; in short I have tried to establish triangulation within the work itself. As a form of Educational Enquiry, I believe that the combination of questionnaires, interviews and scholarly research is of value to myself and my colleagues in identifying trends and patterns of thought within my school. I hope it may be of value to others working in the area of spiritual development and spiritual values. I hope I have covered the context within which I operate from an educational, psychological, philosophical and theological angle through the appendices.

 

The limitations of any research must be acknowledged. This research only looks at the feelings and views of a small number of students. That said, certain patterns do seem to emerge which might be helpful in shaping future thinking on what we do in schools with regard to the spiritual.

 

The picture that emerges is of children who are positive about their own Spiritual Values and Spirituality. They place great value in their friendships, families and God. Their comments, summarised in the appendices testify to their awareness of their own spiritual journeys and a profound sensitivity towards others..

 

The evidence for this is in the students’ answers to the second questionnaire.(in answers to questions 4, 5 and 6). The issue emerging at this stage is that whilst children feel they are able to reflect upon their beliefs, they do not feel that Religious Education really helped in this area. Further to this were the examples given in answer to number 5, in which no students gave other curriculum areas places where they might reflect upon their beliefs. By contrast it was an area mentioned at interview. It may be that students in this teaching group see reflection upon belief as an optional extra which one can either opt into or not as necessary. The frequent mention of the Chaplaincy group in this regard may lead to such a conclusion. That said, it is clear that in the minds of some of these young people a connection was evident between assemblies, Masses and moments to reflect upon personal belief.

 

In their response to ‘where do you prefer to pray…’, none of them mentioned any natural environment, preferring their bedrooms and churches.

 

On a micro level, there is a clear need for an improvement in the quality of prayer and liturgy, and to link Religious Education more obviously for children to their spiritual lives. There is clearly an opportunity to engage in Action Research to address these issues in a professional way.

 

The aim of this research was to consider how children understood their spiritual lives. I have heard students talk with fluency and energy about their belief in God, love and Jesus. Their beliefs resonate with those of the adults shaping the curriculum and in many areas there is a great deal of agreement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

 

Archdiocese of Birmingham (RC) (2003)Annual Report Quality of Education in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Birmingham retrieved on 16th November 2003 from

http://www.theredepartment.com/annual%20report/The%20Annual%20report%202001-2002.doc

 

Ary,D,.Jacobs,L.C. and.Razavieh,A(1972) Introduction to Research in Education Holt Rinehart and Winston Inc.

 

Bishops Conference of England and Wales (RC) (1996) Religious Education Curriculum Directory for Catholic Schools London Catholic Education Service

 

Clandinin, D.J. and Connelly, F.M. (2000)Narrative Enquiry San Francisco Jossey Bass

 

Diocese Of Clifton(RC) (2000)Guidance on Inspection

 

Cohen,L Manion,L and.Morrison,K (2003)Researching Methods in Education 5th Edition London RoutledgeFalmer

 

De Mello, A.(1990) Taking Flight New York Image

 

Dixon,C. (2000)Beliefs and Values in Western Australia, Spiritual and Religious Values Volume 5

 

Eldridge,R. (1999)Towards a Policy for Spiritual Development This was taken from the Internet on 20th October 2003. I do not have the URL number and so have included a hard copy at the end.

 

Erricker, C and J (1996)Where Angels Fear to Tread:Discovering Children’s Spirituality in R.Best (ed) Education, Spirituality and the Whole Child London Cassell pp184-195

 

Everington, J (2000) Mission Impossible, Spiritual and Religious Values Volume 5

 

Guttierrez,G (1984)We Drink From Our Own Wells SCM in Spiritual Development and our Catholic Schools; Religious Education Service of the Diocese of Northampton p1

 

Haigh,G Get Down on Your Knees for OFSTED Times Educational Supplement January 30th 2004

 

Kemmis,S. (ed)(1981) The Action Researcher Reader Deakin Deakin University Press

 

Kohlberg,L. (1981)The Philosophy of Moral Development San Fransisco Harper and Row

 

Kohlberg,L.(1984) The Psychology of Moral Development San Fransisco Harper and Row

 

MacQuarie,J(1982) Principles of Christian Theology London SCM

 

OFSTED (1994)Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development

 

Richards, Sr. A. (1995)The Spirituality of the Child, Spiritual Development and our Catholic Schools; Religious Education Service of the Diocese of Northampton pp4-6

 

Terbush Rev. Dr. Jay M from a sermon ‘Transformed into God’s Glory.’ Retrieved on 22nd February 2004 from http://www.southchurchhartford.org/sermons/2001-02-25.html

 

Vanier J. (1989)Community and Growth Paulist Press

 

Westminster LEA SACRE (1993) Things of the Spirit

 

White,J (1996) Education Spirituality and the Whole Child:a Humanist Perspective R.Best (ed) Education, Spirituality and the Whole Child London Cassell pp30-42

 

Wood,D (2003)How Children Think and Learn 2nd Edition Oxford Blackwell

 

I have tried where possible to follow the requirements of the University for referencing, however in some cases books have not had the place of publication, and at other times the article has been on the internet and recovering such information has been difficult. This is my first written assignment for the University and I was not made fully aware of the referencing requirements until halfway through the assignment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 1

Prologue

 

Spirituality is in part about the self, the inner life, growth and ultimately some kind of transformation. The self – that inner life can inform us about how to respond to the desires and tensions in life. Tensions can come from within or from the environment in which we find ourselves and these tensions are axiomatic to an inner growth and daily transformation and development into a more complete existence; not a perfect existence, but a more compassionate one. Sometimes tensions arise from those around us and our response reveals something of the spiritual values we hold. Take for example this story;

 

A group of Rabbis met in the concentration camp to consider whether, in their experience, God existed. They debated long into the night and came to the conclusion that he did not. They then got up and went and said their prayers.

 

Their experience went beyond the rational, to the core of who they were. It is an almost intangible set of values, beliefs and feelings that we are considering and we must be wary of assumptions in dealing with spiritual matters; as Anthony de Mello reminds us

 

A man got into a bus and found himself sitting next to a youngster who was obviously a hippie. He was wearing only one shoe.

 

                        ‘You’ve evidently lost a shoe.’

                        ‘No man’ came the reply. ‘I found one’

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        de Mello (1990) 45

As de Mello dryly comments, ‘It is evident to me; that does not mean it is true.’

 

The development of the human person and spirit is, I believe, central to the whole education enterprise. Education is not simply the passing on of a body of knowledge. What constitutes the human person, and therefore human nature is an area philosophers and theologians have argued over. Yet the view that society collectively takes towards what constitutes a human person will determine the way that education is organised and managed. It will impact on the way children are viewed and treated by adults within the education service – or system. A brief summary of the context within which our education system operates and has evolved will help us to see how children are viewed today.

 

There is little doubt that the work of Piaget had a huge influence on educational thinking in the 1960s and 1970s. The attempts to educate through a Pavlovian model learning (ie to link conditions of learning to outcome) was found wanting as D.Wood (2003) reminds us by psychologists such as Skinner who showed that the secret to successful learning is in the schedule of reinforcement. What Skinner argued in 1968 was that formal education is based on ‘aversive control’ rather than a concern for shaping and reinforcement of responses to be learned.

 

D.Wood (2003) summarises Piaget’s theory placing action and self directed problem solving at the heart of learning and development. Acting upon the world is to engage with, and control it.

 

It is this action alongside Bruner’s concept that processes are involved in creative problem solving. that have had a huge influence on educational thinking and practice over the past 40 years. Bruner and Vygotsky both recognised the importance of education as understanding the nature, evolution and transmission of human culture. As Wood says of Vygotsky:

 

‘His perspective on psychology reflected his views on the historical and cultural origins of the way in which people in different societies come to act upon construe and represent their world.’

D.Wood (2003) p.11

 

 

Vygotsky’s attempt was to integrate psychology with the humanities as well as the sciences and his thinking has affected the context in which education takes place today. As Wood (2003) reminds us, psychology and before it philosophy have presented theories about how the mind works and develops only to find their work ‘overturned’ by a new generation of intellects returning to old ideas with new perspectives, tools and methods.

 

In terms of Religious Education, two psychologists made a significant in shaping the subject. Goldman (1964) has shown that there is development in religious thinking which reflects that of Piaget’s models establishing three stages;(intuitive thinking, concrete thinking, and abstract or formal thinking).Kohlberg (1984) has done similar work with Moral Development and shown that there are stages through which children go (Premoral, Morality of conventional role conformity and Morality of self accepted principles) What both have shown is that there are stages of development through which children go in order to reach maturation as defined in either religious or moral terms.

 

What I have tried to show here is the context in which education is operating at the moment with a view to understanding how spiritual development fits within current thinking. It is a context within which the process of acquiring and learning is considered in depth with little attention paid to the spiritual.

 

The other context within which education operates is the political and socio-economic. What is taught and learned in schools has to be of value to society in the workplace; hence the focus on the national Curriculum with the regulations regarding Mathematics, English and Science. The desire though is not just to train, but to educate; in other words to develop students minds to think of and understand society (Humanities), creatively (Arts) and linguistically (Modern Foreign Languages). The unique place of Religious Education in the curriculum deserves some mention here. The aim of the 1944 Education Act was to ensure that instruction in religious faith took place in schools. More recent legislation (The Education Act (1996)) aims to educate in religion, which is quite a different concept and requires a rather more sophisticated rationale.

 

Spiritual development is agreed to be of vital importance by successive legislators, SACRES and Education Authorities. ) Yet the society in which we live takes an ambivalent view of religion. This tension is felt most acutely in schools. Teachers, who have their own spiritual values, are sometimes encouraged or coerced into delivering a set of values imposed from a higher authority without any reference to their own views. This in itself presents an institutional and communal tension between the right of a person not to pray – or lead a religious act of worship – with the requirement in many Catholic schools that a teacher should uphold and promote an ethos.

 

Clearly all subjects make a contribution to the Spiritual Development of students but it would be surprising if the Religious Education Department was not significant in this process especially in Voluntary Aided schools where a large measure of this work will be done by the Religious Education Faculty and through Chaplaincy work, Class Prayer and Liturgy. The question we need to address here is the way teachers, and adults concerned with education and pupils define spiritual, and the extent to which expectations can be planned for and engaged in through school life at St Gregory’s.

 

The differing approaches available for this research are structurally important since they need to actually facilitate research which is of benefit both to myself and others. As a Head of Religious Education, I want to know how students perceive their own Spiritual Development within the school context and how as an institution we were aiding that development, if at all. My ‘raison d’etre’ for this work? It has always seemed to me that where relationships of trust, honesty and justice are evident in schools, that sound or good teaching can take place. Yet as staff in schools know there are all kinds of tensions that can corrode and destroy relationships. So the spiritual is for me a human, relational and educative and this is why I wanted to know

1.how teachers/adults see ‘spritual development’

2.how children see their own spiritual development

3.where the school is really helping that development

4.areas where the school might improve.

 

I am currently teaching in a Roman Catholic Comprehensive School on the outskirts of Bath, England. The intake is mixed and students range in age from 11-16 years. The faculty I lead is made up of three full time specialists, and a Deputy Headteacher who is also an RE specialist. Further to this the school has a part time Chaplaincy Assistant who runs activities in the School Chapel and the assistance of an LSU nun. Local clergy visit the school regularly to celebrate mass and other sacraments with children.

 

It may be said – and this is a subjective observation that children at the school arrive and leave at different levels of spiritual maturity. It may also be said that spiritual growth is not a linear progression. The development human nature will be affected by factors outside of school and events such as death, illness, poverty and divorce will affect the way children see the world and their own spirit. The first task we have is to agree what we understand by spiritual.

 

There are here a number of audiences, or groups who will have areas of profound agreement – sometimes surprisingly. The work of SACRES in producing Agreed Syllabi is testimony to those communities and their representatives who work to establish agreement in both what should be taught and by implication the essential values underpinning their own belief system and those of society. Thus it should be possible to vocalise a statement about the nature of spiritual development, its process and intended outcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spiritual – Appendix 2

 

‘Noli foras ire, in teipsum redi; in interiore homine habitat veritas.’

Do not go outward; return within yourself. In the inward man dwells truth.

 

                                                St Augustine De vera Religione, xxxix.72 in A Wright (1996)139

 

As Wright (1996) correctly observes, St Augustine’s words have a ring of modernity about them. The whole concept of the spiritual as hovering below the surface of our consciousness runs right through Post Modern society, and it is precisely through examination of this inner self that the individual encounters his or her nature and enters into ultimate truth and meaning; confronting the heart of existence as a spiritual being. The Christian Church has always maintained that humanity is created in the image of God, and thus, since God is Trinity, this will shape any view of human nature. It follows then that experience of the divine is through relationships since the Trinity is a relationship of love. The identity then, of the divine will rest upon communal relationship of the self to that external to it. Once the self is understood in such a context, the location of the spiritual becomes an issue.

 

It is here that Paul Tillich’s description of the divine as ‘that which is of ultimate concern’ is helpful. This is not the ultimate concern of what matters to me as an individual, but

‘what is ultimately true about the nature of the reality I indwell.’

Tillich in A.Wright (1996) 146

As Tillich points out, ultimate concern needs to be linked to ultimate truth. Only then will spirituality address the communal nature of the self the nature of reality and the individual’s relationship with the actual order of things. It is worth quoting Wright’s summaries of the insights of Christian Theology;

 

‘*the whole person is not to be understood as a dualistic combination of body and soul, and hence the direction of our spiritual endeavours needs to focus outwards towards external reality…

*we are the persons we are in terms of the nature, appropriate or inappropriate, of our relationships with others, the natural order and the existence – or non-existence – of a transcendent divine realm

*the spiritual quest of humanity is concerned with an attempt to look outwards and, in communion with external reality strive to relate appropriately with the open question of the ultimate and true nature of reality.’                                                                                                                                                                     A.Wright (1996) 146

 

Macquarie, in Principles of Christian Theology defines spirituality as

 

‘…the process of of learning by which the disciple becomes more proficient in the Christian life and advances along the way of sanctification’ John MacQuarie 1982 p.498

 

MacQuarie’s poignant definition reminds us of the link between education and spiritual growth, which in the Christian community leads ultimately to a better way of living in harmony with God.

 

Guttierez points out the communal dimension to spirituality;

“Spirituality is a community enterprise. It is the passage of a people through the solitude and dangers of the desert as it carves out its own way in the following of Jesus Christ. This spiritual experience is the well from which we must drink. From it we draw the promise of resurrection.” G.Gutierrez (1984) in Spirituality and our Catholic Schools (Religious Education Service of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Northampton) 1995 p1

 

For Roman Catholic Christians, the community I work with, spiritual development is both a communal and an individual undertaking. It engages those involved in the deepest areas of their lives. The same may be true for those who would proclaim no religious allegiance or faith stance. Put simply, ‘spiritual development’ might be described as RM Eldridge (1999) says, the process of becoming fully human. This process involves the development of the self, or inner person.

 

 

This is essentially what Christian Spirituality is about; the exercise of both prayer and action in order to deepen the believers relationship with a Triune God. Tillich, MacQuarie and Gutierrez and other theologians who have embraced existential thought laid the foundations of a modern spirituality; and in way shaped what educationalists required of teachers in schools.

 

Church schools clearly have a mandate for engaging in this work of spiritual development; this is their ‘raison d’etre’, but what of other maintained schools? The 1992 Education Act required all schools to promote the “spiritual, moral social and cultural development” of all their pupils. The dawn of inspection led to attempts to define what is meant by spiritual and what is offered here is a humble effort to see through some of these ideas. There can be no doubt that recent inspections have focused on the provision of Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development, particularly through arrangements for Collective Worship. Gerald Haigh (2004)

 

Ofsted themselves highlight the problem thus:

                        “The difficulty of inspecting pupil’s spiritual development is part of a wider

conceptual difficulty. The very attempt to form judgements appears to place the educational evaluator in the position almost of inquisitor: by definition therefore, if spiritual development is about a unique inner life, it is not easy to inspect.”

OFSTED Spiritual Moral Social and Cultural Development 1994 p9 in Spirituality and our Catholic Schools (Religious Education Service of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Northampton) 1995 p1

Whilst this acknowledgement is comforting, and gives us a mindful warning of the dangers of turning into an inquisitor, it also points us in the direction of an important question, ‘How do schools promote the spiritual development of all in their community?’

 

The answer to this might be descriptive, a list of tasks. It could be a series of experiences, it may be to do with the way children enter into – or the extent to which they enter into a culture which is promoted by a school. In other words, spiritual development is wider than the individual – it is a collective enterprise.

 

The NCC (now QCA) identifies eight aspect of spiritual development. OFSTED (1994) p9. These are worthy of mention as they offer areas of experience where spiritual development could be said to be happening.

 

Beliefs - The development of personal beliefs, including religious beliefs and an appreciation of the beliefs of others, and how people try to live out these beliefs in an authentic way.

 

A sense of awe, wonder and mystery – The appreciation and awareness of the natural world, human achievement and even beauty.

 

Experiencing feelings of transcendence – Experience or feelings that give rise to the belief in a divine being, or the belief that one’s inner resources can provide the ability to rise above the everyday experience.

 

Search for meaning and purpose – Asking ‘Why me?’ at times of suffering, considering the origins of life and responding to the challenges of life (beauty, suffering and death)

 

Self Knowledge – An awareness of ones own thoughts and feelings, individual identity and the development of self respect

 

Relationships – Recognising the value and worth of each individual and the sense of building community. The ability to build relationships with others.

 

Creativity – Expressing inner feelings through art, music, literature or crafts. Using the imagination inspiration intuition and insight.

 

Feelings and emotions – The sense of being moves by beauty or kindness; hurt by injustice or aggression; an awareness of the need to control feelings and to use emotions as a source of growth.

 

The areas covered root spiritual development in the relational areas of our lives. but they also cover the deeply personal, and cover elements of self, identity and desire. Spiritual Development is linked in the minds of religious believers with services, sacraments and devotion, but to be religious is not a guarantor of spiritual maturity. As Sr. Aidan Richards says in her paper ‘The Spirituality of the Child’,

 

‘To live overtly as a religious person is not the same as developing the innate spirituality that we all have. We must expect that children will develop spiritually at different rates.’

Sr. Aidan Richards (1995)

 

Here she has struck an observable truth that teachers could testify to – that religious practice does not always secure development of a child’s spirit. Yet it remains in the minds of many who govern and manage Catholic schools that this is the case. A belief in either spiritual values or a religious moral code could lead to a consideration of the needs of others and in educational terms this is at the heart of what many teachers are trying to accomplish every day; I certainly am.

 

Belief in God should lead to a deeper love for those around. In Christian terms this is expressed in Jesus’ instruction to

 

‘Love the Lord your God…Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Mark 12:30-31

 

Such an injunction, alongside famous parables like the Good Samaritan Luke 10:25-37and The Sheep and the Goats Matthew 25:31-46 clearly teach the same message; that entering into a communal relationship one develops spiritually. Jean Vanier (1989)., the Canadian philosopher, develops a similar line of thought in his book ‘Community and Growth’ Vanier’s concerns were not necessarily schools but community living. He has worked for years with those who are physically and mentally handicapped. His hypothesis is that as we enter into deeper relationships with those around us, the quality of our spiritual lives begins to improve. This is not to say that the path of spiritual growth will always be easy. Vanier himself gives many examples of how those who are ‘broken’, ‘wounded’ or ‘hurt’ need a great deal of love, patience and understanding. Such insights are essential for schools if they are to move away from being ‘institutions’ to ‘communities’ and provide children with an authentic experience of communal life at a time when for many children this is transitory.

 

The most basic of communities in our society, the family, will for many children be a temporary experience. It is in stable loving communities that children journey through adolescence towards adulthood. The relational and communal, aspects of maturation and emotional growth are, in some way, what we are looking for when we examine the spiritual. Religious groups would want to add that such development is intrinsically bound to an awareness of and relationship with a transcendent Being – with God.

 

We have established, that for schools, spiritual development is linked to beliefs, a sense of wonder and awe, feelings of transcendence, search for meaning and purpose, self-knowledge, relationships, creativity and emotions. Any consideration of the spiritual in schools needs to take account of these areas, because, as Eldridge reminded us, ‘spiritual development is the process of becoming fully human.’ St Ireanaus put it another way when he said

‘The Glory of God is a person fully alive.’ Terbush (2001)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 3

So how might we go about finding out about the spiritual life of a school?

 

The methods employed by OFSTED Section 23 teams are worthy of some brief examination. Evidence is drawn from questionnaires sent to parents, interviews with students, from Schemes of Work, interviews with staff and lesson observations. The desire is not to miss anything and to give the school community the chance to show how and where spiritual development is taking place. Thus the Roman Catholic Diocese of Birmingham was able to produce a report under the guidance of Fr Quigley in which it summurarily assessed the quality of Spiritual provision in the Archdiocese, saying;

 

‘In half the schools the provision for spiritual development is very good. In the other half it is sound. …Where it is very good pupils are taught a clear set of spiritual beliefs and values. In lessons pupils study the spiritual outcomes of some of the experiences they have been learning….’

Archdiocese of Birmingham Annual Report 2001-2002

 

These sentences mask the real spiritual lives of the schools inspected, which is given amplification later in the same paragraph, with examples of prayer life, retreats, public worship, pilgrimages, charity work and the work of chaplains. It is to this second area that I want to focus on.

 

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Clifton, in it’s Handbook on the Inspection of Catholic Schools says;

 

‘Inspectors must evaluate and report on the school’s provision for the Spiritual Development of all pupils through the Religious Education curriculum and life of the school, the example set by the adults in the school, and the quality of acts of Collective Worship.’

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Clifton –Guidance on Inspection p16

 

What follows in terms of guidance is not that dissimilar to the guidance offered by QCA. (See Appendix 2) For Inspectors, Spiritual Development is concerned with the quality of opportunity offered to students and their level of engagement in the education process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 4

http://www.qca.org.uk/ages314/downloads/ew_spiritual_and_more_oral_develop.pdf (See page q)

 

Appendix 5

Questionnaire 1 and the results

 

Please complete this questionnaire by circling the number that best fits how you feel.

 

The intention is to find out how you feel about you spiritual development in school.

 

You do not need to put your name on the paper.

 

To what extent does school help you to;

 

                                                                                                                        Strongly agree                                        Strongly disagree

 

1. think about your beliefs                                                                           1                    2                 3                 4                 5

 

2. reflect on the beauty of creation                                              1                    2                 3                 4                 5

 

3. pray                                                                                                                                               1                    2                 3                 4                 5

 

4. work out answers to difficult questions

like ‘Why am I here?’                                                                                              1                    2                 3                 4                 5

 

5. grow up                                                                                                                                  1                    2                 3                 4                 5

 

6. develop the gifts you have                                                                 1                    2                 3                 4                 5

 

7. reflect upon your feelings and emotions                 1                    2                 3                 4                 5

                        The responses both classes gave are shown below. This is just one way of showing the material; there are others, but for our purposes the tables below will suffice.

8G

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

Total

 

…think about your beliefs

1

8

9

3

4

25

 

…reflect on the beauty of creation

4

2

8

8

3

25

 

…pray

5

2

7

5

6

25

 

…work out answers to difficult questions

1

5

5

9

4

24

 

…grow up

3

2

9

8

2

24

 

…develop the gifts you have

5

6

7

3

3

24

 

…reflect upon your feelings and emotions

3

3

11

6

1

24

 

 

 

7MD

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

Total

…think about your beliefs

2

14

7

3

2

28

…reflect on the beauty of creation

7

7

8

4

2

28

…pray

10

6

9

1

2

28

…work out answers to difficult questions

3

10

12

2

1

28

…grow up

14

6

3

2

3

28

…develop the gifts you have

11

11

2

2

1

27

…reflect upon your feelings and emotions

4

8

13

2

1

28

 

Combined

 

 

1

2

3

4

5

Total

…think about your beliefs

3

22

16

6

6

 

…reflect on the beauty of creation

11

9

16

12

5

 

…pray

15

8

16

6

8

 

…work out answers to difficult questions

4

15

17

11

5

 

…grow up

17

8

12

10

5

 

…develop the gifts you have

16

17

9

5

4

 

…reflect upon your feelings and emotions

7

11

24

8

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Modal averages are shown in bold for easy reference. Some preliminary hypothesis may be drawn from this first questionnaire.

 

The first observation is that 8G felt they have had the opportunity to reflect upon their beliefs within school life. The modal average is ‘satisfactory’, with over half of the students returning a favourable view of the opportunities presented to them.

 

The second point that may be made from this questionnaire is that while some children felt there was opportunity to reflect upon the beauty of creation but others did not share this feeling.

 

The responses to the third question about prayer demonstrated a fairly equitable spread of satisfaction across the group, from those who were very satisfied to those who were unsatisfied. The results here are open to all sorts of interpretation, and what is needed is for us to check through the second questionnaire the views expressed with regard to prayer, and we do find that in the second questionnaire we have the further information that a significant majority find little value in the prayer offered by staff within the school. This is an area of particular concern since one of the reasons parents would choose a Catholic school is because of it’s prayer life. This will need to be checked at interview with students.

 

Any question which mention difficult may get a negative response, but the feeling here was clearly that there were few opportunities to engage with the complex issues that life presents. This may be because the curriculum continues to be driven by assumptions about learning which are rooted in the belief that recitation of ‘blocks’ of facts is a worthwhile and useful social activity. There can be no doubt that facts about the world, history, culture and science are necessary, but what is surprising is the perception of this group that they did not engage in this process of questioning in English, RE, or the Humanities. Alternatively, they do engage with these questions but do not see them as significant and cannot recall considering them; hence the responses. The responses here were at the end of a module in Religious Education where the students considered questions such as ‘Does God exist?’ and ‘Why is there suffering?’ and it may be that they do not perceive these as difficult questions. Perhaps the difficult questions in their minds are why parents separate, why siblings take drugs or why their grandmother died. I am speculating here, and again this is an area to be further explored.

 

7MD

 

 

This questionnaire, identical to that given to 8G was given to a mixed ability Year 7 teaching group on December 2003. They are a group who are very still and respectful of the views of others. Yet the very process of asking these questions caused an interesting degree of excitement.

 

Some tentative conclusions may drawn from this. This teaching group clearly felt that they had the opportunity in school to consider their beliefs. It would also be fair to say that in this class they were overwhelmingly positive about opportunities to pray, grow up and develop their talents. That said, they were not so impressed with opportunities to reflect upon creation, work out answers to difficult questions or reflect upon their feelings. The surprise here is that the class had just completed a module on ‘Creation’! However we are considering their perspectives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 6

Questionnaire on Spirituality

AGE______ GENDER______________

Please answer the questions below.

1.Think back to when you were younger

 

Describe how you saw God when you were small.

2.To what extent do you still see God in this way?

3.Who has helped to shape your ideas about God? Tick those who have helped shape your ideas about God.

 

                        Parents                                            Family                        Teachers                                       Friends                                             Priest                            People from my Church                                   Television                                     Others(Please specify)

 

4.How do your RE lessons help you to think about what God is like?

If you can, give some examples

5.Are there other opportunities in school to think about God?

6.If your answer is yes, list as many as you can think of.

7.If you do pray, where do you prefer to pray?

8.Do you find that prayer in school helps you?

9.What is the most important person, issue or thing in your life today?

10.Explain why it is so important to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 7

 

1.Think back to when you were younger

 

Describe how you saw God when you were small.

8G

Girls

Boys

10 girls described God as being on clouds, having a beard. The girls answers were much more descriptive and some were not sure about the age. Two said that he was middle aged and another said that God was wise...like Dumbledore

9 boys described God as old living on the clouds and having a beard

 

1 boy described God as a ‘ghost with a dress’

1 girl said that she thought that when we die we become a cloud

 

1 girl said that she saw God as an angry person who had amazing powers

 

1 girl described God as a ‘giant’

 

 

7MD

Girls

Boys

5 girls described God as having a beard, living on clouds and being old

2 boys described God as a ‘very old man with a white beard’, one adding that he was ‘like anybody else’.

1 said that God was a cloud with eyes and a smile.

1 girl said that she didn’t ‘see’ God but thought that he was a powerful person and that the only time she saw him was on a cross.

 

1 girl described God as a ‘bright light’, tall, with a beard

 

1 girl drew God as an angel

 

2 described God as a king and one went on to say that when she died that there would be an escalator taking her to heaven

1 said he saw God as ‘being in charge’, while another said god could do ‘anything’.

1 said that God was a leader, a maker nice man who loves you.

1 described God as ‘someone in the air listening to everything I said and thought and didn’t question bad thoughts and things I said. But loved me.’

1 described God as a person who ‘helps me when I needed him.’

1 described God through a picture of God as a ghost holding the world in ‘it’s’ hands

Another, in similar vein, said she saw him ‘as this sort of ghost that lives in the sky and helps everybody.’

 

1 described God as a man with long brown hair and a kind person

1 described God as a ‘human being who lived somewhere else’

1 saw God as a young man with sandals and a white alb

 

 

1 described God as a large hand with a deep voice

 

2 boys wrote nothing for this question and 2 said they knew nothing of God when they were younger.

 

2.To what extent do you still see God in this way?

8G

Girls

Boys

10 said they had changed their belief, still believing in God but with a different ‘image’. Some went on to give reasons which are interesting.(I see him as thin air…I see him as a light or energy source…I think he’s a spirit now…I know there is much more to it now, and it’s not all a ride in the park, it’s harder in life now)

4 boys said that they had changed their belief, still believing in God, but with a different ‘image’. Some went on to give reasons. (He is a spirit…the teacher gave us a different idea…)

3 said they had not changed their view of God

4 said they still saw God in the way that they did when they were younger.

1 said she didn’t believe in God anymore

2 said they no longer believe in God

 

7MD

Girls

Boys

2 said they were not sure if God existed any more

2 said they did not believe that God existed and 2 wrote nothing.

1 said she saw god as an old man now

 

2 said they didn’t see God like this anymore

3 said they had changed their mind on how they saw God;

‘…understand more on god so I have changed my mind.’, ’Not at all, now I think about him as King of Kings.’, ‘I have a different idea of what god is like.’

Many answers here fell into a ‘sometimes’ category;

‘I see God in a way by sacrificing for us and that he loves us.’

‘Sometimes I think of him like this but others I think of him as a man.’

‘I kind of see god in this way, sometimes, but other times I don’t know what.’

‘Sometimes I think about god in this way but sometimes I think of him as more of a friend.’

‘I see God differently now and I believe he comes in any form.’

2 said they sometimes thought of God in this way

1 wrote that ‘he is watching us.’

 

2 described how their view of God remained similar adding ‘…but now I know a lot more about him,’ and ‘He still listens when no one else does.’

4 described how their view of god had remained similar

 

 

3.Who has helped to shape your ideas about God? Tick those who have helped shape your ideas about God.

 

8G            

 

Girls

Boys

Parents                   

7

3

Family

3

1

Teachers              

15

6

Friends                    

4

2

Priest   

9

5

People from my Church

4

1

Television            

5

6

Others(Please specify)

 

Bible

 

7MD

 

Girls

Boys

Parents                   

10

9

Family

8

6

Teachers              

7

10

Friends                    

3

2

Priest   

8

7

People from my Church

5

3

Television            

2

3

Others (Please specify)

 

Preachers on the street

 

4.How do your RE lessons help you to think about what God is like?

8G

Girls

Boys

A positive comment in that it is helpful 8

A positive comment in that it is helpful 4

Unhelpful 7

Unhelpful 4

7MD

Girls

Boys

A positive comment in that it is helpful 6

A positive comment in that it is helpful 9

Unhelpful 0

Unhelpful 4

No comment 7

 

Other 1 student made the observation that she wasn’t sure because she didn’t know if God existed.

 

 

5.Are there other opportunities in school to think about God?

8G

Girls

Boys

15 girls said there were other opportunities

8 boys said there were other opportunities

 

1 boy said there were no other opportunities

7MD

Girls

Boys

12 girls said there were other opportunities

8 boys said there were other opportunities

3 said not really

4 boys said there were no other opportunities

 

1 boy said ‘Hardly except for the chapel.’

 

6.If your answer is yes, list as many as you can think of.

8G

Girls

Boys

Chaplaincy/Chapel 15

4

RE Lessons 3

2

Assembly 1

2

Class Prayer 1

1

School Mass 2

2

Tutor time 1

 

On the bus

1

 

7MD

Girls

Boys

Chaplaincy/Chapel 10

6

Break time/lunchtime 2

1

In tests 2

 

RE Lessons 2

4

Assembly 1

 

School Mass 1

3

Tutor time 2

1

When you feel sad/down/alone 1

 

Talking to friends 1

 

Confession

1

Bed

1

 

 

7.If you do pray, where do you prefer to pray?

8G

 

Girls

Boys

Church

2

 

Home/Bedroom

5

2

With others

1

 

Mass

 

1

School

 

2

7MD

 

Girls

Boys

Church

3

4

Home/Bedroom

12

4

School

2

1

Garden

2

 

In my head

 

1

In a quiet place by a window

 

1

 

8.Do you find that prayer in school helps you?

8G

 

Girls

Boys

Yes

2

1

No

12

6

Sort of

1

2

 

7MD

 

Girls

Boys

Yes

5

6

No

1

3

Sort of

9

1

Don’t know

 

1

Prefer to pray at home

 

1

Left blank

 

1

 

 

9.What is the most important person, issue or thing in your life today?

8G

 

Girls

Boys

Parent(s)

1

2

Family

9

2

Friends

4

 

God

1

 

Television

1

 

Sex

 

1

Skateboarding

 

1

Guitar

 

1

Pets

 

1

 

7MD

 

Girls

Boys

Parent(s)

6

5

Family

3

4

Teddy

1

 

The book I’m writing

1

 

Personal

 

1

Cars

 

1

Rugby

 

1

 

 

10.Explain why it is so important to you.

8G

 

 

Girls

Boys

Parent(s)

‘…she is always there for me.’

 

‘because he’s going to Iraq.’

Family

‘…I would be lonely without them.’

‘Because I love them.’

‘they are there when I need them.’

‘they are nice and always there.’

‘they care for me and I care for them.’

‘because they help me to get through the hard times.’

‘…they care and love for me.’

Friends

‘they are just important to me’

 

God

‘…if I need help or something I know that I can just talk to him anytime anywhere.’

 

Television

‘…it’s my God.’

 

Sex

 

 

Skateboarding

 

‘Skateboarding is my only God. Skateboarding is for life not just for Christmas.’

Guitar

 

‘I’m in a band’

Drums

 

‘…because they’re addictive.’

Pets

 

Because they’re cool

 

7MD

 

Girls

Boys

Parent(s)

‘Because she loves me.’

‘Because he is like a friend to me and loves me lots.’

‘Because they are trying to help me through every difficulty.’

‘because she looks after me.’

‘She’s always there to comfort me and loves me.’

‘Because it is the most important thing in my life.’

‘because it helps us in life.’

‘because she has raised me and helped me through my life.’

‘Because he has a brain tumour and might die when they fix him.’

‘She’s kind.’

Family

‘Because they are special.’

‘They love me.’

‘I don’t want to upset them near to Christmas, I’m not going to upset them because they love me and I don’t upset people.’

‘because they help me and are always nice to me.’

‘they are the ones that love me and help me when I have problems.’

Teddy

‘Because I have had her since I was born and I love her.’

 

The book I’m writing

‘because I’ve been writing it for about four months now and I’m about half way through it.’

 

Personal

 

Personal

Cars

 

They are amazing

Rugby

 

My favourite sport

Stomach

 

I love food

Tigers

 

I want to protect them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 8

 

The 1944 Education Act required that all students receive Religious Instruction. The aim then was to produce citizens who had a grounding in Christian principles who would attend Church. The Roman Catholic Church was provided with it’s own parallel system but where the governors were responsible for Religious Education. Throughout the 1950s such a model seemed to meet the needs of the society it served, but the 1960s and 1970s brought changes in population and culture. Religious Education could no longer be seen as a Christian – it had to explain and teach about the other world faiths within the community. Ninian Smart provided the rationale in his book ‘The Religious Experience of Mankind’ which provided a phenomenological approach to the subject. His ideas were seized upon by curriculum writers eager to find a way of providing a value free description of religion at a time when that was the vital factor. In 1973 Michael Grimmitt of Westhill College, Birmingham published a model which included two levels; Level 1 the Existensial Approach, Level 2 the Dimensional Approach. The Existential Approach was aimed at encouraging children to consider their own beliefs and feelings in depth. The Dimensional Approach is based on Smart’s thinking. For a crisp summary of this Cynthia Dixon’s paper (2000) Beliefs and Values in Western Australia pp220-231.These two models have influenced Religious Education ever since but it is worth noting that in the last decade there has been an increasing interest in the imaginative, creative, spiritual side of religion as Judith Everington (2000) notes. Schools, then have moved beyond Religious Education to recognising that there is a need for Spiritual Education, and one might reasonably expect this to be happening in Religious Education.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix 9

 

A)If you were alone on a desert island, what or who would you want with you, and why.?

 

Year 7

Friend, family, food drink television photo album, mobile phone, cuddly toy, Playstation 2

 

Year 11

Took along time to get started…but when they did;

Staying in touch with people, friends, my dad…that’s as deep as I can go…phto album…people who I knew would go in.

 

B)How important is creation to you, and do you ever think about it in school?

 

Year 7

It is important, quite important because everything we have is based on it.. without it we wouldn’t be here.

Think about it in RE and Geography, Art, Drama

 

Year 11

The world around you includes you..it is important but the school has not helped, we have a litter problem, there is no conservation.

Images of Africa show blacks eating rice…there is more to Africa than this. The school stereotypes the poor and the black community. The image is a powerful one..it’s in your head.. the Western World has an image we need to change

 

 

C)Do you ever pray in school? Where and when?

 

Year 7

Pray when we have to…when war is going on

Pray at the end of the day and in assemblies

Pray in the chapel and silently in our heart.

 

Year 11

They make us pray but we don’t really…only when we have to …we say the Our father but that’s not really prayer is it? Prayer is mindless repetition.

 

It could be improved through…prayer related to the assembly…silence…little stories…thought for the day…they didn’t like the compulsion…mass should be optional

 

D)Does school help you to grow up…to mature?

 

Year 7

Yes it does, you have to be more responsible

Yes you are expected to grow up

 

Year 11

You are expected to be more responsible and show a good example…but this would have happened anyway…whatever school you were in

 

E)Does school help you to develop the gifts and talents you have?

 

Year 7

Yes it does and you need school to develop gifts

Schools help us to learn how to get on with others

 

Year 11

Yes…definitely, without school you couldn’t learn and develop

 

 

F)Does school help you to understand your feelings?

 

Year 7

Secondary school is rushed and more frustration and more detentions because you forget things.

There is too much to organise.

There is loads of homework

 

Year 11

Kind of…it’s a bit difficult…sometimes but any school would do this and you learn most of it from your parents