What is spiritual education? Some esoteric trend? A form of religious education? Or something completely different?
We understand spiritual education as further development of alternative education. The failure of traditional education was at the same time the birth of holistically oriented kindergartens and schools. But even their contents need an extension and reorientation to meet the children’s requirements again.
We are living in a time of significant changes. Old values and securities lose their importance and don’t fit into our lives any more. Whoever wants to cling to supposed securities and traditions, will realize that these securities do not exist any more.
Somehow orientations which have been guiding society for centuries, telling us what is right or wrong, seem to have dissolved. This affects virtually all areas of life. Also children ‘operate’ differently now, than ten or twenty years ago. Or rather: do they still ‘operate’? Anyway, should children ‘operate’?
Is it a surprise then that both adults and children feel insecure?
Of course, there are plenty of people who are supposed to have all sorts of explanations for the failure of traditional education: TV is to be blamed. Patchwork families are to be blamed. It’s the working mothers‘ and the teachers‘ fault. Morale is insufficient, there is not enough discipline, there are too many computer games, and there is the internet. And anyway, the whole world has gone terribly wrong during the last decades…
It would be far more effective, not to look for culprits and to ignore one’s own responsibility, but to have a closer look at the changes that are taking place around us. We should not look at things superficially, but deal profoundly with the enormous changes that are taking place around us. For example, the global transformation process.
Everybody talks about changes
We can see, more and more clearly, that mankind is undergoing enormous changes. No matter whether it is politics, economy, ecology, society, health care, the education system, or our individual lives: nothing is left untouched. This accelerating process of change, which shapes our lives, is both feared and welcomed by people. There are different ways to look at the changes. We can find scientific sociological, historical, spiritual or esoteric explanations. The key message remains the same: mankind is undergoing a massive transformation.
The transformation process was a supposed fantasy, created by remote esoterics. But its presence is such that in the scientific field, for example in medicine, sociology and philosophy, it has been noticed and investigated. For example, the famous American sociologist, Barbara Marx Hubbard (See: Marx Hubbard, Barbara. The shift from Ego to Essence, Hampton Roads Publishing Company, 2001) connects scientific thinking with spiritual knowledge in her books.
We are the first, and only generation, in the history of mankind, which experiences the development of completely new, unprecedented phenomenons. For two or three decades, children have been born who are absolutely different to the numerous generations before. Barbara Marx Hubbard describes this as the “Birth of the Universal Humanity“. It is the arrival of those children on our planet who are born with a highly developed consciousness and spirituality. These children are also called “the Awakened Souls“, “Master Souls“ or “Children of the New Age“.
This universal humanity, the children of the New Age, are distinguished by their connection to the entirety of life with their hearts. From an early age, they feel the call to use their spiritual abilities for the positive development of mankind, and the world. This might sound far-fetched, but talks and experiences with these children, who are directly connected to the universal wisdom, have been documented in numerous books and films for many years.
Assess our current situation in the world, we have to realize, that these ecological, social and personal collapses seem dangerous, painful or terrible, but they are an evolutionary driving-force. Crises are apparently still necessary to make people realize that they have to develop their consciousness, and abilities, to be able to survive on this planet. Therefore, we have to get rid of our ego and self-centredness, and develop a new form of consciousness, which means giving spirituality importance and space in our lives. We can only survive this transformation process if we connect the material and the spiritual level in our lives. And then mankind can develop in a positive direction.
Creating new conditions
The children of the New Age need an appropriately developed environment. This does not mean they would not survive in the old traditional system. But they meet their limits and test ours dramatically. For example, through aggression, withdrawal, apathy, or disinterest in learning, or in the social environment. To put it plainly, traditional education – and even alternative education – cannot satisfy their demands. Why? Let’s have a closer look:
Most of us grew up in our state education system, which sees learning mainly as intellectual understanding of a strictly defined learning content given by the Ministry of Education. Children are primarily supported in their intellectual skills. Potentials and abilities, such as creativity, are usually neglected. The traditional system focuses on teaching and testing of mentally comprehensible material. For engaged and holistic parents, this has not been enough or, too one-sided. Therefore, they have looked for alternatives, for example, the Waldorf and Montessori kindergartens, and schools. Picture 1 shows symbolically what the traditional schools choose to emphasize, namely brain and intellect.
This form of education is an extension of traditional education, including the physical and emotional level in learning and playing. (Picture 2 symbolically shows that it concerns holistic, and not just intellectual learning.) Children’s individuality is appreciated and supported. Learning does not only involve intellect, but also the children’s physical and emotional needs. By discovering and trying out their senses, and making experiments in groups, children can make new experiences. Great value is also attached to personal competence (getting to know oneself), expertise (getting to know your environment), social competence (dealing with others). And yet alternative education increasingly finds itself out of its depth.
My understanding of spiritual education is a further development of alternative education, incorporating the spiritual level of our being into teaching, and raising, of children. As mentioned above, I do NOT mean unworldly and remote or esoteric thinking, but the belief in the existence of a comprehensive consciousness. But how does it help children? That they are allowed to be WHOLE for the first time, and don’t have to suppress and deny their spirituality. Picture 3 makes clear that the new form of education not only supports the development of body, mind (intellect) and soul (emotions, feelings), but also involves the spiritual part of our being. This is why some typical features of spiritual education are as follows:
Spiritual education does not only need a new direction, or extension of parents‘ and teachers‘ previous thinking, but also ‘spiritual tools and learning aids’. Discover more about this subject under “the Tools“.