A case for spiritual education

Our children could use a course in spirituality

Clearly, secularization of education serves great value. Children are taught through the lens of science, rather than on the foundation of one single religious ideology, which is likely to advance a singular view of what is right and wrong, making society conducive to religious autocracy. Each religion is based on certain tenets. For Hinduism, for example, non-violence is the highest principle whereas Buddhism lays all responsibility on Karma, or the individual’s actions. Christianity instills heavily the value of faith. Hence, in religion-based, or parochial, schools what children learn is colored by these principles. To promote religious freedom, religious education is kept at bay. However, that has left generations of students void of a foundation in faith and spirituality.

In public schools, education is primarily through an objective lens, that of science. Starting early with biology, chemistry, math as well as computer science, children advance through them over the four years, and some learn science at the level of college sophomores by the time they graduate from high school. Colleges require core courses for admissions: English, math, science and social studies, every year of high school. They also require at least two years of foreign language. With an additional class in music over the four years, and perhaps physical education, the students finish their high school. Whether due to core requirements by colleges and because of department of education requirements, schools do not offer courses in spirituality.

Adults know the power of spirituality, an awareness of existence beyond what science teaches. This can be a strong force in human interaction, and, more importantly, in one’s own progress as a citizen of the human society. Not only with humans, it develops an understanding of our world in the context of our ecosystem. How we treat non-humans, whether sentient our insentient beings, determines our future, both near and the very far. Spirituality also helps deal with situations that can cause stress both emotionally and physically.

Children attending parochial schools, however reluctantly, cultivate some spirituality. Public schools and other secular academies, however, do a disservice to future generations. Spirituality is essential not only for our interactions with others but also for our own emotional and physical well-being. Schools should offer courses in spirituality.