Educational impact on spiritual growth
Kowalske, Kristy Lee
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The concept of spiritual giftedness in the classroom has gained increasing attention over the course of the past decade and is evolving in the field of gifted education. Many influential people have called for action to educate children in real-world ways by promoting social capital, ethics, and wisdom (Ambrose & Cross, 2009; Gardner, 2011; Renzulli, 2011; Sternberg, 2011). Although these different topics do not encompass the totality of spirituality, they do address a similar educational philosophy of promoting the well-being of individuals and improving the overall well-being of mankind. Through the use of a case study method of a recent high school graduate, this investigation offers an overview of spiritual giftedness and how spirituality can be nurtured in the classroom. Olivia’s identification as a spiritually gifted student was based upon self-reports, teachers’ observations, and anecdotal accounts that align with Torrance and Sisk’s (2001) description of likely traits found in gifted individuals. In order to understand the current state of addressing the spiritual needs of children, this study also examined teacher-based philosophies that nurture spirituality, curriculum designed to enhance spiritual development, specific programs to implement, and techniques educators can employ in the classroom. The findings may be useful for practitioners in understanding techniques to nurture the spirituality of students and in understanding spiritually gifted students. Policymakers may find this study useful when examining school philosophies. On the college level, professors may find this study beneficial when focusing on the spiritual dimensions of educators in the classroom. This study is presented in the form of three manuscripts to be submitted to professional journals. The first article describes characteristics, anecdotal accounts, and personal philosophies of Olivia as a spiritually gifted individual. The second article describes how teachers impacted the spiritual growth of Olivia through teaching philosophy, attitudes, and interests. The third article describes instructional techniques and extracurricular activities teachers can utilize to nurture the spiritual development of students.