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Being spiritually educated
chapterposted on 2018-01-01, 00:00 authored by Scott Webster
This current era of globalisation is producing many tensions and crises including around economic and environmental issues and the mass movement of populations as refugees. It has been argued for quite some time, through agencies such as UNESCO (e.g. Jacques Delors, 1998; Edgar Faure, et al., 1972), that if humankind is to be enabled to tackle these challenges then we ought to focus on changing the human spirit through education, rather than simply teach people to have information about spirituality. Drawing from Erich Fromm (1976; 1992), Gabriel Marcel (1949), Rollo May (1983) and others, we can understand there are two modes of human existence – having and being. It will be argued that the being mode ought to be the focus for education, and spiritual education in particular, if the human spirit is to be educated and changed for the better. Currently in the West the having mode dominates our curricula. This causes epistemology to be privileged over ontology, where learners are expected to acquire or to have an education through obtaining commodities such as knowledge, skills and even spirituality. In contrast to this hegemonic approach, the argument will be made that education ought to be primarily an ontological affair (Barnett, 2007) and should therefore be understood through the being mode. This requires curricula to focus upon the subjectification (Biesta, 2010; 2013) of students which is existential in nature. In this chapter the case will be made for making spiritual education educational for our times through a curricular approach which is centred on enabling students becoming or being spiritually educated in contrast to having an education on spirituality.