Spirituality and morality in the practice of teachers

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ORIGINAL ARTICLE

GERONE, Lucas Guilherme Teztlaff de [1], BATAGLIA, Patricia Unger Raphael [2]

GERONE, Lucas Guilherme Teztlaff de. BATAGLIA, Patricia Unger Raphael. Spirituality and morality in the practice of teachers. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 05, Ed. 09, Vol. 01, pp. 108-120. September 2020. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link: https://www.nucleodoconhecimento.com.br/science-of-religion/teacher-practice

SUMMARY

Context: Scientific research on moral development in education has gained ground in the wheels of debates and academic research, however, there are few studies that address spirituality as a dimension of moral development considering especially the area of education. Objectives: This study addresses spirituality in moral development, specifically in the practice of teachers. The theoretical basis will be based on Piaget, Kohlberg and Fowler on moral, religious and faith development. Results: 1) there is an etymological relationship between spirituality, moral development and teachers; 2) there is a historical relationship between spirituality-religion, morality and education. A relationship between spirituality, morality and teacher practice is perceived in the search for an integral and human education, moral and spiritual issues are indispensable; understanding of human values and rights; as a (coping) resource for the teacher to find meaning and professional and personal purpose; in religious education there are human values with moral effects such as respect, fraternity, solidarity, well-being. Considerations: The contribution of the psychology of education to the reflection of spirituality, moraland the teacher, such as, in the etymological meanings, in the search for knowledge and sense-purpose of life; as a spiritual coping resource in the educational context. It is necessary to continue new research that analyzes the influence of spirituality and religion on moral development in the practice of teachers, such as moral competence, methods of continuous formation, the practice of moral and religious teaching, and the construction of moral virtues.

Keywords: Moral development, education, spirituality, teaching.

1. INTRODUCTION

It is with Kohlberg’s theory (1981) on moral and religious development that Fowler (1992) inspired by Piaget (1973) developed studies on faith as a dimension that is constructed chronologically with the experiences of life. For Kohlberg (1981) and Fowler (1992), moral and religious development are distinct, but they are associated in the search for meaning and existential values, which are built in educational environments: family, the community of faith and the school community. In this sense, educational environments have as primary purpose to construct the entires between the dimensions of faith, an aspect of existential meaning, with the educational dimensions: culture and moral values acquired in socialization.

It is understood that teaching is an art of life, the educator is one who builds a dialogue between the moral issues of society with the values of the learner: his meaning and purpose, his psychoemotional and spiritual needs. In this context, this work seeks to understand the relationship between moral and spiritual issues and the influence of this relationship on education, specifically in the practice of teachers.

This study is structured as follows: 1) an overview of the etymological views of the study. Knowing the terminologies is a fundamental starting point. The notion of spirituality, moral and teacher development will be coined. 2) A theoretical and practical historical overview of the relationship between spirituality-religiosity, morals and education. Knowing the socio-historical reality allows a systematic analysis on the theme of study and support for discussion of the theme. 3) In moral, religious development and education, Kohlberg and Fowler’s theories are used. With these authors, academic support is guaranteed with valid arguments to discuss the theme addressed here. 4) Finally, in the considerations are pointed out, the findings, and the shortcomings of this study.

2. WHAT IS SPIRITUALITY/RELIGIOSITY

In the first, spirituality is a notion that refers to the state of the nature of the spirit, something integrated into man. That is, a quality and exercise of spirit. According to Waldir Souza (2013, p. 97), it is “a human condition from which one does not escape”. It is added: spirituality is a dynamic existential dimension of experiences, cultivated in spirit, which impels the conscious human being in his vital choices, forming his (self) knowledge about himself and the world: his moral values, friendship, connection, solidarity, humanism, and the meaning and purpose of life, transcendence, which may (or may not) be related to religion , understood here from its Latin etymology, religare, which means “reconnection”, connection between man and God (DERRIDA, 2000).

In the academic and popular world there is a comparison between religiosity and spirituality. According to Koenig (2012), most research on religiosity uses the notion of spirituality in the title or discussion of the results. Thus, in these studies religiosity and spirituality appear together. However, even if this association is, religiosity and spirituality cannot be considered as similar. For Koenig (2012) religiosity comes from religion: a system of beliefs and practices observed by a group of people who rely on rituals or a set of scriptures and teachings that recognize, idolize, communicate with or approach the Sacred, the Divine, God.

3. WHAT MORAL DEVELOPMENT

Development is understood as an action of growing or progressing, a growth of individual psychological, moral and intellectual attributes. The meaning of morals comes from the Latin mos – moris, which denotes custom. Moral: the rules of conduct, within the human spirit, precepts established and admitted by a society that regulate the behavior of those who are part of it (AULETE, 1980).

Moral development is tied to human development, moral issues are found in all civilizations. For Vázquez (1987), morality is a set of norms and rules elaborated and accepted by a civilization, in which social relationship, behavior and governance norms are regulated. For Vázquez morality is born in the agreement of individuals in ensuring a behavior of each one within the collective (VÁZQUEZ, 1987).

Morality from the perspective of spirituality lies in the consciousness of spirit and in virtues. According to Comte-Sponville (1999), virtue is an inclination of the human being to do good, a spirit in truth, which refers to moral thoughts and actions. Comte-Sponville (1999) adds that virtue is an applied and living moral, which transcendent what is generic. For Comte-Sponville (1999) there are virtues associated with spirit and reason, such as justice[3].

In religion the notion of morality is related to religious aptitude, developed and understood at the levels of religious maturity. That is, the more religious doctrine and teaching are adhering, the greater the moral and social development (AMATUZZI, 2000). It is common to find civilizations that have developed socially with influences of religious doctrines, regulated the norms of moral control, for example, in a civilization with Judeo-Christian tradition it is a crime to kill, steal or commit acts that harm the integrity of the collective, that is, it is not legal and moral (Exodus 20: 1-17).

In psychology there are interpretations about the notion of morality and its development: a) within the behaviorist understanding the notion of morality is formed by the external aspects of what is genetic and is constituted in what is good for society is what allows survival, and what is good for the organism is what develops well-being, and what is good for culture is what solves problems (ZILIO; CARRARA, 2009). b) in Bandura’s cognitive conception the notion of morality is seen in social behavior, development occurs in observation and imitation. c) For Freud, morality is related to the ideals that constitute the I, which is the representation and knowledge of man, while, it relates to desire, guilt and feelings of obligation as motivators of moral action (GOLDEMBERG, 1994). d) For constructivist psychologists Piaget and Kohlberg, one is seen as the author of moral development, in judging wrong or right.

4. WHAT IS A TEACHER

Etymology derives from the Latin docere meaning ‘teaching’ notion is related to those who educate, teach and teach classes, or, who builds values, norms or rules. The notion about teachers has variations according to the social historical context, for example, a teacher can be the one who teaches religious norms and precepts (ROLDÃO, 2007). For Paulo Freire (2005) the teaching practice necessarily needs to contemplate the experiences of the human being, his values and morals, value friendship and connection, solidarity, and promote meaning and purpose of life.

For Libâneo (2008, p. 47) “teaching work is a “fundamentally social activity, because it contributes to the cultural and scientific formation of the people”. Fischer (2009, p. 94), describes that teaching is a space of “experimentation, transformation of one’s mind, of genealogical exercise”. Space is where the questions occur “in what way we do, this and not in that way; how we have accepted this and not that; in what ways they have refused to be this or that, as teachers.” That is, a moral and ethical development of oney, which is changing, acceptance of diversity and information circulating in society.

5. HISTORY OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RELIGION, EDUCATION AND MORALS

In all developments of humanity religion and education were interconnected, for example, in the former European civilizations it is common to find a religious leader (shaman or shaman) who occupied a role of educator, guided the moral norms that regulated the collective and personal behavior of individuals (BOTSARIS, 2011).

The middle age is the period with the greatest relationship between religion, education and morals. It highlights the theocratic authority of the Roman Catholic Church that held political, educational and social power and imposed religious dogmas on the moral orders of society, for example, what is right pleases God, what is wrong is against God’s standards. In order to maintain moral and religious order in society, priests or members of the church were politicians, educators or rulers. Only at the end of the middle ages does the power of the church in political and social issues in society diminish, also decreasing religious imposition on moral issues.

At the beginning of modernity, democratic society replaces theocracy, according to Kant (1793) it is the separation between the Church and society that the person builds moral conscience without religious imposition. However, religion has not failed to influence the moral issues of the person, in his conscience chooses to follow and maintain religious beliefs, they can explain the (i)moral issues, such as injustice, the sense of suffering, the limitations of life, and human imperfections. It is in this context that religion participates in the moral construction of the person, in his religious beliefs it is possible to find full consciousness, justice, delight, infinity of perfection in God. Within this, in Kohlberg’s (1981) understanding in human consciousness there is a cosmic[4] order without imperfection, injustice and error that can be referred to religious belief.

For Kohlberg (1981) morality is an independent domain of the religious dimension, the subject can (or may not) judge his moral actions through religious belief, however, in life there are questions that overlap moral reach and are explained by religious dimensions, such as, “why do good?”. That is, it is not only to comply with the rules and norms for social well-being, but a reflection on a real motive, sense and moral purpose. Therefore, Kohlberg established in the stages of moral development the seventh stage, which would have religious explanations in moral development.

Currently according to Kadooka; Lepre and Evangelista (2015) there is a moral crisis, an absence of human values in political, social and educational environments. In this scenario, religious belief has been a moral regulator to deal with the crisis, such as within the context of education, teachers use religious/spiritual coping[5] to deal with situations of crises, stresses and suffering in the school or personal environment. Teachers have also used the religious and spiritual dimension as a means of finding meaning and purpose in the search: personal valorization, well-being, and a more humanized and integral pedagogical practice (ESPÍRITO SANTO, 2008).

5.1 HISTORY OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RELIGION, MORALS AND EDUCATION IN BRAZIL

Brazil has European heritage, due to the process of colonization inherited the Judeo-Christian tradition. At the height of colonization religious orders such as the Jesuits practiced actions directed to education opening educational institutions. The relationship between education and religion can be divided historically: between 1500 and 1800 teaching was proselytizing with an intention to evangelize blacks and Gentiles, along with the religious message teaching was directed to reflections on moral values related to community and politics.  Between 1500 and 1800 religious occupied an important socio-educational role in Brazil, because education was elitist, on the one hand, the nobles had easy access to schools, on the other side, the poor class as slaves and indigenous peoplehad no access to education. In this period, the philanthropic entities of religious majority that promoted social and educational assistance to the poor class arise. Father Manuel da Nóbrega of the Society of Jesus stands out, who founded in Bahia in August 1549 the first “school of reading and writing”. Nóbrega’s vision was to train citizens with a sense of moral, social and religious duty (MATTOS, 1958).

Between 1800 and 1964 the direction of educational entities becomes the responsibility of the State, this occurs due to the inauguration of the Republic, in it, the State becomes Secular, from this, it will be the responsibility of the State to effectively promote an education without religious proselytism (CURY, 2002). The new Republic constituted a public network of educational services without religious proselytizing (JUNQUEIRA, 2007).  However, even with the official separation between the State and the Church, religious issues continued in the field of education.

An important milestone happened in 1930 with the creation of the Ministry of Education, which despite being Secular was inspired by the free education promoted by religious entities. In 1931 The Minister of Education Francisco Campo introduced religious education in schools as part of the philosophical and moral construction. Another milestone is when Religious Education was introduced in the first LDB Lei de Diretrizes de Base da Educação Nacional in 1961 Law 4,024 (JUNQUEIRA, 2007). Following another version in 1971, the ideological structure of the LDB was tied to the thoughts and positions of the social, political and religious classes. Note, at least two groups, statists and liberals, between the agendas, discussed the role of the State, the family, and moral issues, which most often intertwined with religious values. Later, religious[6] education is introduced in the 1996 LDB as an optional discipline.

In the Base Nacional Comum Curricular (BNCC) elaborated in 2015, we regulate the essential learnings to be worked on in education aimed at promoting equality, integral training, and a democratic and inclusive society. In the BNCC, Religious Education is composed of themes with reflections that deal with spirituality and morality, such as Identities and otherness: “The i, the other and the we”. Knowledge and thought about beliefs and deities related to philosophy of life: representations and religious behavior, way of living, feelings and memories and knowledge.

In the 1970s and 1980s in the area of education, Paulo Freire, who had an integral view of education, Freire addressed themes of ethics-morals, spirituality as forms of freedom from the oppression of the system (FREIRE, 2005).

Currently according to IBGE data for the 2010 Census on religion, they disclose that 86.8% of the Brazilian population is composed of Catholic and Protestant Christians (AZEVEDO, 2012). For Moreira-Almeida (2010) religion is a social factor, as it is followed by most of society and influences politics, culture, and education.

6. MORAL, RELIGIOUS DEVELOPMENT AND EDUCATION

It is with Piaget’s constructivist vision and Kohlberg’s cognitive-structural vision that the person is the author of moral construction through the judgment of right and wrong (LOURENÇO, 1992). In the context of morals and religion, Kohlberg (1981) distinguished religious and moral thought, but associates them in the stages of development. For Kohlberg (1981) within moral development there are questions that are answered by religious dimensions. Like why be moral? Is it good or bad?  The answer lies in complying with norms as social balance, but it also involves an individual reflection of the meaning and purpose of being, such reflection is cultivated in the nature of spirit and can be answered by religious dimensions: God is good and wants man to be good: “All good gift and all perfect gift comes from above, descending from the Father of lights , in whom there is no change or shadow of variation. According to his will, he beaded us by the word of truth, that we might be as firstfruits of his creatures.  (James 1:16-18). He understands in the biblical passage that goodness comes from God, He created man to be good. In this example, you realize how religious dimensions can answer the question of being moral.

The religious dimensions as a moral aspect that provides meaning is approached by James Fowler[7] (1981), who influenced by Piaget (1973) developed the stages of faith that occurs chronologically, “at birth, we are endowed with innate capacities for faith”, with the course of life faith develops in the whole with educational environments: parents, family members, the community of faith (FOWLER, 1992). Within this, educational environments have in their purpose to construct entirely between the dimensions of faith, “a generic aspect of the human struggle to find and maintain a meaning of life” (FOWLER, 1981), with the educational dimensions of life: immediate knowledge, socialization, culture, and moral values. In this context, for Espírito Santo (2008) teaching is an art of life, the educator is the one who builds the dialogue between the moral issues of society with the values of the learner: his meanings and purposes, his psychoemotional needs, longings and others.

Considerations

In etymological reflections on spirituality, moral development and teachers find relationships and similarities in meanings, such as meaning is a dimension that make up the notion of spirituality, morals and teacher practice. In this context, The Psychology of Education can contribute to etymological reflections on the sense-purpose as part of the nature of spirit (pisque), which comprises moral behavior, knowledge of ones and the world (SANTOS, 2019).

History points out a relationship between moral and religious issues in the educational context, especially in Brazil there is an influence of the Christian Jewish tradition in the educational context. For the educational psychologist La Taille (2009) the appreciation of the Christian Jewish tradition is not about encouraging religious proselytism in education, as occurred before the secular state. It is also not a catechism in teaching, but it is understood that the practice of educating is not built in a futuristic perspective, it is taught what already exists with reference to the past, therefore, it is educated through cultural foundations and history. This enables a knowledge of ones, in turn, contributes to a meaning of life.

According to Kohlberg, moral and religious development are associated in the search for existential answers, such as in the sense and purpose of life. For Fowler, the stages of faith (understood as spirituality) is a resource for the search for meaning and experiences in life, which is built in whole life with educational environments, family, school and society.

As raised in this study, most of the population is currently religious (84% Christian). According to La Taille (2009), in a survey conducted by the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Brazilian Academy of Sciences revealed that 49% of people have the greatest interest in knowledge the theme of religion.  In this regard, the influence of religion is considered in the construction of knowledge expressed in the educational context, this does not mean that one should have a confessional or proselytical religious educational practice, but a secular teaching in its full sense, respect, ensure, and guarantee the freedom of all religious beliefs. In this context, religious teaching as a discipline should not be a means of catechism, but a study of the religious phenomenon, freedom and diversity of belief, religious history and culture, citizen formation in universal moral values, peace, solidarity, love, tolerance, cooperation, honesty, respect and justice (BOEING, 2009). In this sense, the practice of the educator aims at human development, in love, in cooperation, in freedom, in equality with singularity, in the integration of the body, relational, socio-cultural and faith axes.

Spirituality is a coping resource for teachers to find meaning and professional and personal purpose. According to Takiuti (1997) the educational context can be stressful, which interferes negatively in emotional, cognitive and behavioral states and results in insecurity, disability, inferiority and other negative feelings. For Takiuti (1997) spiritual coping in the educational context provides resilience, courage, self-esteem, which positively influences learning.

Finally, it is important to develop new research on: the influence of religious belief on the moral competence of teachers; methods of continuous formation of teachers that contemplate moral and spiritual issues; studies on conflicts between moral and religious issues in the educational context, for example, gender ideologies and religious beliefs.

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APPENDIX – FOOTNOTE REFERENCES

3. For Comte-Sponville (1999), as Piaget (1994) believes, the notion of justice is the most rational of moral notions, as it is analyzed psychologically and results in cooperation. Justice is understood as an ideal of values ​​or what is just.

4. By understanding the cosmic order: We need to feel that we are charged with the same energy that gave rise to Earth, stars and galaxies; that same energy brought about all forms of life and the reflex consciousness of humans; it inspires poets, thinkers and artists of all times; we are immersed in an ocean of energy that is beyond our comprehension. But this energy, ultimately, belongs to us, not through domination but through invocation (BOFF, 2010).

5. Coping emerged in psychology, a word derived from English that does not have a literal translation into Portuguese, which can mean “dealing with”, “handling”, “facing” or “adapting to”. it is a behavioral and cognitive resource (PANZINI, 2004, p. 20).

6. The knowledge of the Religious Phenomenon, developed by the Sciences of Religion and systematized by the Basic Education curriculum is part of the cultural construction of society. With the Spirit to reframe the different dimensions of human life. And Religious Education as a component of citizen formation becomes not only a space for re-reading and reframing the Religious Phenomenon but also for respect for the plurality of each socio-cultural context (BOEING, 2009, p. 10-11)

7. James W. Fowler is a theologian, psychologist, professor of religion and human development. His book Stages of Faith (1981) stands out in which he addresses the development of faith, religion. The six stages from which faith develops: (1) undifferentiated faith, (2) intuitive projective faith, (3) mythical literal faith, (4) individual reflective faith, (5) conjunctive faith and (6) universalizing faith.

For Fowler, faith is a generic aspect of the human struggle to find and maintain meaning, and that it may or may not express itself through religion “(p.83). According to Fowler it is part of human nature to seek meaning and, this is associated with faith that may or may not lead to religious practices. You can understand that Fowler separates faith and religion, being faith is “mystery that surrounds us” (p.39), a “transcendent reality” (p.168), in other words one can understand faith as spirituality

[1] Master in Theology from PUC/PR. He has a specialization in Organizational Behavior; Specialization in Neuropsychopedagogy; Specialization in Philosophy and Sociology; Specialization in Teaching higher education. MBAs in Administration and Management with emphasis on spirituality and religiosity in companies. Graduated in Commercial Management. Bachelor of Theology. He holds a Degree in Philosophy and a Degree in Pedagogy.

[2] PhD in Social Psychology. Master’s degree in Social Psychology. Degree in Psychology.

Submitted: August, 2020.

Approved: September, 2020.

Master in Theology from PUC / PR. Specialization in Organizational Behavior; Specialization in Neuropsychopedagogy; Specialization in Philosophy and Sociology; Specialization in Higher Education Teaching. MBAs in Administration and Management with an emphasis on spirituality and religiosity in companies. Graduated in Commercial Management. Bachelor of Theology. He has a degree in Philosophy and a Degree in Pedagogy.

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