The concept of the child through a spiritual lens: implications for interdisciplinary approaches and Religious Education

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Abstract

Developing an understanding of what is meant by the terms ‘child’ and ‘childhood’ is essential for teachers as it shapes their approaches to teaching and learning (Grajczonek 2011). Contemporary discourse on these meanings is dominated by sociologists working in the field of the ‘new sociology of childhood’ but this paper argues that notions of spirituality also need to be considered. The paper re-interprets data collected from children aged 7-11 (n=56) in England about their perceptions of childhood. Previous analysis (Adams 2013; 2014) was contextualised entirely in sociological theory. However, whilst that analysis facilitated a coherent and meaningful exploration of childhood which synthesised children’s perspectives with theory, this paper argues that sociology alone was insufficient. Without a spiritual lens, the very nature of the children themselves and their descriptions of childhood were lacking. This paper revisits the data and, whilst acknowledging the centrality and value of sociology’s contribution, it re-interrogates the data from the perspective of spirituality. Key themes emerging are: relationship with self; relationship with others; connectedness; beings and becomings, and its darker aspects. The paper concludes that interdisciplinary approaches to understanding childhood should also include the spiritual. The implications of the findings for Religious Education are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-93
JournalJournal of Religious Education
Volume65
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2017

Keywords

  • Childhood
  • children’s spirituality
  • child’s voice
  • Cambridge Primary Review
  • new sociology of childhood
  • children’s views of childhood

Cite this

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The concept of the child through a spiritual lens: implications for interdisciplinary approaches and Religious Education. / Adams, Kate.

In: Journal of Religious Education, Vol. 65, No. 1-3, 09.11.2017, p. 81-93.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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