Spirituality in education : professorial viewpoints
Master of Education
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There has been a dramatic rise in interest in spirituality over the last decade. Historically, universities began with a spiritual base. Today, superficially, education generally appears to have lost its spiritual emphasis. The purpose of this study is to describe spirituality in Canadian post-secondary education by investigating the work experiences of 6 professors across 5 different faculties at one university in Ontario. The intent is to determine the extent of spirituality in these professors’ teaching and to find out how the professors defined spirituality, and what their viewpoints were with regard to the barriers and supports to spirituality in education. This study utilized a mainly phenomenological approach to investigate spirituality in education. Six participants were chosen and interviewed through a snowball sampling technique. All of them are male university professors between the ages of 31 and 60 who come from three religious backgrounds. Generally following guidelines from Bogdan and Biklen (2003), four themes emerged from the analysis of the interview data: (a) subjects’ definitions of spirituality, (b) their perceptions of barriers and supports, (c) benefits, and (d) application. Through an exploration of the work experience of spirituality in education, the lived experiences of the researcher and her participants were described in order to answer the research questions. The findings from this study could provide educators with first hand accounts o f how spirituality has been incorporated into the classroom environment within one Canadian university which could be used as an example to gauge the current situation o f spirituality education in post-secondary institutions. This study also has the potential to raise awareness regarding the lack of spirituality in education, and will add to the body of knowledge on spirituality in education, which in turn could motivate others to investigate the topic further.