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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Creating Meaning through Education in a Postmodern World: Spirituality Matters

Dr Charles E. Bressler.

In our postmodern world, values are indeed in flux. As educators, we have contributed to this flux and the ever-changing value system sthat we present to our children in classrooms. We believe we must teach the necessary cognitive skills essential for daily living, but in the process we have denied the spiritual side of each of our children. In trying to be tolerant of all world views, we have consciously and unconsciously failed to develop the spiritual sides of those we teach.

Scholars like Parker Palmer and many others note that the abandonment of teaching about the spiritual nature of humanity in the classroom has been one of if not the chief reason why our children are groping for values in our postmodern world.

I propose that we development objectives and methologies for teaching spirituality within our classrooms. One of my key assumptions is that we are not only physical but also spiritual beings. When we teach only the physical or cognitive sides of our children, we are teaching only one half of each child. No matter what our world view may be, humanity, I assert, at its core is spiritual. For the sake of our children, we as educators must discuss openly whether or not we believe in the spiritual side of our humanity. In our postmodern world, the talk of absolutes is, for the most part, abandoned. I assert such must be resurrected. Yes, we should debate what we mean by spirituality (and I will propose my own definition), but to argue that absolutes do not exist is absurd. Just the statement that there exist no absolutes is an absolute statement.

Hence, my presentation will be devoted to defining spirituality and proposing a critical methodology for introducing our students both those in public schools and at the university level to the notion that they are indeed spiritual beings.

Without the discourse of spirituality, our students will remain as they presently are: confused and critical about the term spirituality itself while denying the essential core of their very existence and meaning!


Dr Charles E. Bressler  (United States)
Professor of English
Department of English
Houghton College

Dr. Bressler received his BA degree in English from Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; his MS in education from the University of Scranton, Scranton, PA; and his Ph.D. from the University of Georgia, Athens, GA. He has taught in the public schools of Aberdeen County, Maryland for three years and at the college level for 28 years. His various publications include a introductory text on literary theory entitled Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice (3rd. ed. Prentice Hall, 2003) and forthcoming text entitled Of Welcome and Wonder (Notre Dame University Press) tracing the influences of G. K. Chesterton and George MacDonald on the lives and writings of Charles Williams, C. S. Lewis, and J. R. R. Tolkien. Dr. Bressler is married to Dr. Darlene Bressler, Ph.D., Chair of the Education Department of Houghton College, Houghton, NY 14744

  • Spirituality in education
  • Teaching Values through sprituality
  • Children as spiritual beings
Person as Subject
  • Palmer, Parker

(30 min Conference Paper, English)