Moral and Spiritual Factors

(Note: I took a hiatus from the blog for three weeks as I was finishing up my work at my university. Thursday was my last day of work, after almost 24 years at NMU and 38 years in education. I leave on September 4 for my next field of service in Haifa, Israel. I plan to have this series finished by then and will see what happens next.)

Of all the factors I am discussing in this section, the only one not identified by the American Psychological Association is this one—moral and spiritual factors. Because of its centrality to the new paradigm of truth, love and justice I am proposing, and its intimate connection with all the other factors of learning, it is important to be consider here along with all the other principles noted by the APA for learning.

The essential and fundamental crisis and challenge of the age and education is the lack moral and spiritual qualities needed to move humanity out of its present moribund condition. Spirituality can act as a leaven to affect positively the character of our culture, communities and institutions, but its influence is limited in education because of its association with established religions. The full and proper development of capacities is achieved through spirituality or spiritual growth. Moral understanding and behavior furthers the advance of that process. Education according to this view is a spiritual and moral process leading to a virtuous life. The highest forms of knowing, loving and willing and the ultimate goals of education should be the knowledge of God, love of God and obedience of God.

As we looked at cognitive, social, emotional, moral and motivational factors and intelligences above, we will very briefly look at the literature on spiritual factors and intelligence here. Spirituality addresses meaning, motivation, vision and value involving existential questioning and the awareness of divine presence. Some qualities of spiritual intelligence are self-awareness, spontaneity, being vision and value led, holism, compassion, celebration of diversity, field independence, humility, tendency to ask why, ability to reframe, positive use of adversity and sense of vocation (Zohar & Marshall, 2001). The core spiritual abilities and capacities are transcendent awareness, heightened spiritual states of consciousness, sanctifying daily experiences, spiritual problem-solving and virtuous behavior (Emmon, 2000). As we recognize and reflect upon the nonmaterial and transcendent aspects of our lives existence, new meaning and consciousness develop.

Only as we find higher meaning and purpose and seek to live in accord with moral and spiritual principles will we find true contentment and peace, both inwardly and outwardly. The modern day worship of greed, pride, fame, conspicuous consumption and individualism are contrary to the virtues of truth, love and justice. By focusing on higher purposes and capabilities, the ability to take initiative in a creative and a disciplined way, sustain effort in the face of obstacles and behave responsibly should be enhanced. Developing a spiritual practice of prayer, meditation, study and service should enable us to better transcend selfishness and self-centeredness and help develop a healthy and happy life. Morality and spirituality have been endorsed in all of the great religions and been validated throughout history. We should act with kindness, forgiveness and mercy to one another, focusing on the qualities of truth, love and justice.

Teachers should do their best to see that the rights of all in their classrooms are protected and that all students are allowed an opportunity to develop their potentials. In this spirit, reward and punishment should be wisely employed to establish security and justice, needed for unity and peace to exist. Love and justice help children develop their potentials and discourage unhealthy or wrongful acts. This moral process of education and socialization and must be done with care and wisdom. The children need to be so educated that they would not commit a crime or wrong to another and that they would not betray the love and trust of the community. The institutions and communities should try to prevent any wrongdoing, but if it occurs, act to prevent its re-occurrence.

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About rodclarken

Dr. Rodney H Clarken is professor emeritus, School of Education, Northern Michigan University.
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One Response to Moral and Spiritual Factors

  1. César says:

    Excellent post..Wish you all the best in your retirement and next post.

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