“A teacher does not write on inanimate material, but on the very spirit of human beings”1
In an ever increasingly technological age, the role of spiritual capabilities is essential. Formation is foundational to all Catholic Education and the Catholic School is called to “begin from the principle that its educational programme is intentionally directed to the growth of the whole person.”2 The Awakenings Curriculum through the component of Spiritual Capabilities creates space for engagement of the whole person. These endeavours go beyond the cognitive - the curriculum intentionally seeks to engage the deeply human quest of gaining meaning in and through life. “People have an inbuilt receptiveness to meaning (the ‘lustre’ of life): we discover and we ascribe meaning and we are also capable of recognising and acknowledging others as people in search of meaning, longing for meaning and absorbers of meaning.”3 Spiritual Capabilities seek to help participants make meaning in their present context.
Spiritual Capabilities are deeply human. They are those capabilities that may enable stronger relationships with self, others, creation and the transcendent. “Children’s spirituality is an initially natural capacity for awareness of the sacred quality to life experiences.”4 Spirituality involves what makes humans ‘be alive’ and ‘animated’; it is the more.
There is the intent that Spiritual Capabilities are included in a systematic, consistent way, ensuring breadth and depth for all learners in the Awakenings curriculum. This curriculum proposes that humans are innately spiritual. O’Murchu argues that spirituality is a “dynamic quality which all people are born with, and which continually seeks expression throughout a person’s life.”5 It is not a matter of ‘teaching’ these capabilities but acknowledging, valuing and giving expression to these capabilities in the lives of adults and all students within Religious Education and beyond.
The Awakenings curriculum aims to provide “Curriculum and pedagogies in which the learners are active participants who are engaging their whole person (head, heart and hands) in a systematic and critical synthesis of culture and faith, and of faith and life.”6 The focus on Spiritual Capabilities seeks to assist adults and students to explore the whole person in the learning and teaching of Religious Education and all facets of school life.
Spiritual Capabilities are extensive. This curriculum seeks to focus on eighteen capabilities, with the knowledge that one’s spiritual life is not defined by or limited to these eighteen.
- Approach with Openness
- Being Present
- Connecting with the Heart
- Deep Listening
- Deep Questioning
- Discern Hope
- Embracing Silence
- Engage with Mystery
- Explore Layers of Meaning
- Respond beyond Words
- Sitting with Ambiguity
- Wonder and Awe
1 Congregation for Catholic Education (1997) The Catholic School on the Threshold of the Third Millennium.
2 Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education (1977) The Catholic School
3 Pollefeyt, D (2013) International Speaker Series Catholic Education Office Melbourne.
4 Nye, R (2009) Children’s Spirituality - What it is and why it matters Church House Publishes London.
5 Adams, K, Hyde, B & Woolley, R (2008) The Spiritual Dimension of Childhood Jessica Kingsley Publishers London.
6 NCEC (2016) A Framework for Formation for Mission in Catholic Education