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Title: An examination of spiritual education in Steiner Schools
Author: Pearce, J. L.
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2015
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Steiner schools constitute the fastest growing alternative education movement in the world. There is good reason to think that some of their spiritual education practices might be compatible with the aims of spiritual education in common schools. Yet we know little about them. I begin this thesis by establishing the importance and relevance of finding out more about Steiner schools, particularly in terms of understandings and practices in relation to spiritual education within these schools. I go on to suggest spiritual education is an area in which common schools “could do better”. I define spirituality as concerning relationship with the divine, or transcendent, with engagement in spiritual activities, such as prayer and worship, being attempts at connecting with the transcendent. I argue that the aims of spiritual education in common schools should be to educate pupils about, and prepare them for (as distinct from initiating them into), spirituality. Given that education about spirituality should already be adequately dealt with in religious education, I attend mainly to preparation for spirituality which I argue could be achieved by developing pupils’ inner lives. Following my defence of spiritual education as learning about and preparation for spirituality, I turn to my examination of spiritual education in Steiner schools. This examination was conducted through a textual analysis of Rudolf Steiner’s teachings, and an ethnographic study of one Steiner school supported by qualitative data collection in five other schools. This study suggests contemporary understandings and practices adhere closely to the teachings of Steiner, whose educational philosophy is rooted in Anthroposophy. Despite what I refer to as the “weakly confessional” nature of spiritual education in Steiner schools, which nurtures religious or quasi-religious belief in preference to atheism, I argue that a number of practices need not be conducted in a confessional manner and are likely to contribute well to the aims of spiritual education I advocate for common schools. As such, they are worthy of serious consideration by those responsible for spiritual education in common schools.
Supervisor: Hand, M. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available