How you attempt to answer the big questions
depends on your worldview.
Everyone has a worldview, even if they think
they haven’t got one.
Worldview and learning are fundamentally
What kind of people do you want your
students to be?
Session 1: What is Spirituality
Session 2: Creating a Culture
Session 3: Teaching Learning and
1988 Education Act (following 1944 Act)
a balanced and broadly-based curriculum
which –
Promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental
and physical development of pupils and of
society; and
Prepares such pupils for the opportunities,
responsibilities and experiences of adult life.
We live in a society driven by a ‘liberal economic’
worldview. In Judeo-Christian tradition there exists a
significant spiritual challenge to the assumption that we
will only be secure if we have wealth
"Jesus said that where our treasure is, there our hearts will be.
Our hearts will be in a very bad way if they are focused only on
the state of our finances. They'll be healthy if they're capable of
turning outwards - looking at the real treasure that is our
fellow human beings“ (Archbishop of Canterbury, 2010).
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees,
you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed
tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but
on the inside are full of dead men's bones and
everything unclean.”
Matthew 23:27
Acknowledgement: thanks to Mark Hamill who
provided the following slides.
‘It is easier to be a saint than to live with one.’
The spiritual, moral, social and cultural
elements of pupils’ development are
interrelated. Attempting to disaggregate them
is helpful for the purpose of analysis and also
inspection and school self-improvement. But it
should not be forgotten that there is much
overlap between them, not least in respect of
spirituality and its links to pupils’ attitudes,
morals, behaviour in society and cultural
understanding. (p.8)
Moral development is about the building, by
pupils, of a framework of moral values which
regulates their personal behaviour. It is also
about the development of pupils’
understanding of society’s shared and agreed
values. It is about understanding that there
are issues where there is disagreement and it
is also about understanding that society’s
values change. Moral development is about
gaining an understanding of the range of
views and the reasons for the range. It is also
about developing an opinion about the
different views. (ibid, p.15)
Ofsted’s Worldview
Definition Of
Elevates personal autonomy
Secular (‘anti-religious’?)
Durkheim: Moral Education
Piaget: The Moral Judgement of the Child
Kohlberg: Child Psychology and Childhood
Education: a cognitive developmental view
From imposition to free acceptance
Moral Reasoning Not Moral Behaviour
What do we mean by spirituality or spiritual
impact? – there is little agreement
Diversity of research paradigms and views of
Home and School effect – we don’t know how
they interact
Focus on standards drives research
1. Pupils at church maintained schools and
independent Christian ethos schools have a
more positive attitude to religion and spiritual
2. Pupils achieve more highly and make better
progress – this is not entirely accounted for by
pupil selection
3. Religious affiliation predicts individual
behaviour and positive attitude towards
Erricker, C. (2007) Children’s spirituality and
postmodern faith. International Journal of
Children’s Spirituality, 12, (1), pp.51-60
Fisher, J.W. (2008) Impacting teachers’ and
students’ spiritual well-being. Journal of Beliefs
& Values, 29, (3), pp.253-261
Hyde, B. (2008) Weaving the threads of
meaning: A characteristic of children’s
spirituality and its implications for Religious
Education. British Journal of Religious Education,
30, (3), pp.235-245
‘spirituality, values and distinctiveness are
difficult concepts for schools and headteachers
to grapple with.’ (Mapping the field, p.13)
Is spirituality a public or private matter?
Can it/should it be measured?
What is the relationship between spiritual
health and quality of education?
Does promoting spiritual health in education
offer a fruitful arena for faith/non-faith
Creating a Culture...
Awe and Wonder?
Who owns the mission? Who is the guardian of
the mission and the purpose and the ethos?
“Indeed to know is a thing that pleaseth
Talkers and Boasters; but to do, is that which
pleaseth God.
Not that the heart can be good without
knowledge; for without that the heart is
nought: There is therefore knowledge and
Knowledge that resteth in the bare
speculation of things, and knowledge that is
accompanied with the grace of faith and
love, which puts a man upon doing even
the will of God from the heart”
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress
“not a block of wood from which you can carve
a statue,” but rather “a living image, shaping,
misshaping and reshaping itself” (Comenius,
1953, p. 24).
“Human beings appear in the classroom as
teachers, as learners and as the characters who
inhabit teaching materials of various kinds –
story books, images in wall displays...An
implicit or explicit set of beliefs concerning the
human beings who appear in these roles must
therefore be a significant part of any approach
to teaching.” (Smith, D, 2000, p. 62)
(Smith, D. (2000) Spirituality and teaching methods. In R. Best (Ed.)
Education for Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development,
London: Continuum, pp. 52-67)
Spiritual capacities
 Spiritual experiences
 Spiritual understanding
 Spiritual responses
human abilities which make us the kind of creatures
which are capable of spiritual growth
Such As:
 Self-awareness and reflection upon our experiences
and circumstances;
 Empathy;
 Reflecting upon the moral dimension of our existence;
 Making free and responsible choices in awareness of
their consequences and implications;
 Reflecting on the meaning of our lives;
 Gaining a coherent sense of identity and purpose; and
 Exercising imagination and creativity and appreciating
A slightly different approach focuses on spiritual
experiences it suggests that students should be made
aware that spiritual experiences are quite common in
the population at large, and that such experiences have
beneficial effects. Examples include:
curiosity and mystery;
awe and wonder;
connection and belonging;
heightened self awareness;
prayer and worship;
deep feelings associated with what is felt to be
ultimately important; and
a sense of security, well-being and purposefulness
Spirituality involves understanding as well as abilities and
experiences. Understanding means equipping students with the
tools to relate their abilities and experiences to broader
frameworks of beliefs; this is often regarded as the job of the RE
teacher. But in any part of the curriculum where we are
encountering some human endeavour, from our use of technology
to our artistic achievements, it is relevant to ask how our beliefs
and commitments come into play.
In a maths lesson, students are working with percentages and
fractions in relation to money. Instead of making calculations in
relation to purchases, however; the theme is giving. Pupils
calculate the value of a gift relative to the overall amount of
income of the giver; and learn about the practices of making
charitable covenants and of tithing. They go on to study how the
money of a major charity is allocated to different projects, focusing
on the difficult decisions involved in allocating finite resources.
(From Charis Mathematics Units 1 – 9
“The difference between spiritual growth and its
absence becomes visible in actions.” (Smith, 1999)
How will I deal with my own weaknesses, fears
and hurts?
What or whom will I trust?
How will I invest my time and energy?
What priorities will I set?
What is of highest value, or worth sacrificing for?
What will give my life purpose and meaning?
Can we trust science and technology to give us a
good future?
Is the truth of a work of literature less important
than a mathematical truth?
What commitments motivated this artist or
historical figure and how am I like her or unlike
How will I relate to those from other cultures or
who speak other languages?
What purpose does music have?
Does learning to handle money involve giving as
well as saving and spending?
(Smith, 1999)
What kind of relationships are being promoted
in the learning context?
What messages are being communicated to the
learner about what is worthwhile and has
What messages are being communicated to the
learner about their own significance?
What are we measuring?
Is assessment critically aligned?
What messages do modes of assessment
communicate to the learner?
Does success or significance underpin
assessment strategies?
What messages do current models of whole
school assessment communicate to the
members of that community?
Worldview, spirituality and learning are
fundamentally connected because all teachers
and learners are spiritual beings.
Spirituality is not irrational, it is relational, it is
part of how we know and how we act/enact
Curriculum, pedagogy and assessment ALL
communicate spiritual messages – the question
is are these messages aligned with the spiritual
development we would want to promote?

All day I think about it, then at night I say it. Where