We are working with twenty-two schools from around the country, including public and independent schools. They were selected because of their exceptional work in successfully weaving student’s spiritual and moral development through their school culture, classroom approaches, daily activities, and more.
For example, these schools do not shy away from discussions of ethical dilemmas or difficult philosophical questions. Instead, they embrace these difficult conversations, using them to teach respectful dialogue among people with differing views. Discipline and counseling are handled with a spiritual lens, teaching students about the potential for forgiveness and starting over.
These schools take risks to be relevant for a changing world. They look and feel different from a typical school. They focus to a much greater extent on the inner core of the child, working to make sure that every child feels valued and learns to value and respect others.
They connect students to moral values experientially through service, sports, engagement with the natural world and opportunities to encounter other cultures. Community service is not just an activity but is deeply embedded in the life of students.
Through our work with Public School Fellows, CSE is striving to understand how spiritual and moral education is practiced within a public school environment, and what some of the obstacles and challenges are to broad-based implementation of this approach
Our Next Steps
Based on our findings we are developing a process that can be used by public, charter, independent and religious schools that want to become more supportive of the spiritual development of their students. Our existing group of research schools are co-creating the process with the CSE research team. The goal is for the process to be broad and inclusive so it can be used by any school in the United States.
We will test our process in schools and collect qualitative and quantitative data including traditional metrics (e.g. academic performance, attendance, dropout rates) as well as data on the well-being, attitudes and behaviors of the students. The data generated by our work with these initial schools will inform refinements and be broadly disseminated to the community of academics and practitioners. Once initial testing is completed our goal is to facilitate broad scaling of this approach nationally.