published in Lights of Irfan, Volume 6, pages 173-202 Wilmette, IL: Irfan Colloquia, 2005
Can we create a spiritualizing pedagogy in a world that is culturally and religiously very diverse? Does the post-modern assertion that there can no longer be a (satisfying) grand narrative render such a project futile? In this presentation I will give an outline of my doctoral dissertation, which provides a Bahá'í-inspired model of education.
This autobiographically-derived, and narratively-voiced, thesis is one teacher's story. From that story a spiritualizing model of education is argued, toward making a paradigm shift. The suggested shift involves placing 'technical' learning within the context of being and becoming fully, and positively, human. Teaching then becomes a matter of enabling development of the individual's Caring, Creative and Critical abilities, developed within the Community (the 4Cs), inspired by the light of higher-order values -- the remainder being processes and content. The thesis makes an original contribution to educational knowledge through the educational life-story, and through making explicit a model out of that life-experience. The suggested model of spiritualizing pedagogy, called SunWALK, therefore is grounded in accounts of the writer's major educational life-events. In particular it presents epiphanous encounters undergone in meeting three 'discourse-communities': the Bahá'í Faith, the teaching of English, and Philosophy for Children. These are seen as providing the three intrapersonal 'voices' of human engagement, Caring, Creativity and Criticality, which correspondingly have three ways of knowing: the 'social-others-centred', the 'subjective-creative-mystical' and the 'objective-reasoning-scientific'. A fourth discourse-community, that of holistic education, is the educational sub-domain to situate the thesis.
A conceptual framework for the model is outlined, using concepts gleaned from the four discourse-communities. A view of 'the Whole', and of heart-knowing, is presented, to counter-balance the conceptual. Heart-knowing, the 'subjective-creative-mystical', is seen as an innate, intuitive way of knowing, c.f. the methods of the 'objective-reasoning-scientific'. The third form, i.e. 'social knowing', is seen as deriving from the cultural, interpersonal, matrix of family and community relationships - internalized as Caring.
The conceptual and heart-knowing are brought together, via a 'conceptual-contemplative-conceptual' cyclical approach, using a 'Mandala Diagram'. The idea of 'Dialectical Spiritualization' is developed, as that which the four 'Cs' have in common.