What is Spirituality at St Helen’s?
One dictionary definition of Spirituality is ‘the quality of being concerned with the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things’. Spirituality can be described as an inner sense of connection to the people and the world around you, based on the belief that there are things beyond human control or explanation. Spirituality can involve an inner sense of connection to people; how they connect deeply to people and show empathy for the emotional feelings of others. It can also involve an inner sense of connection to the world and to find meaning and purpose with things that are likely to be beyond human control or explanation.
Perhaps Spirituality is all, or none, of these things:
- Spirituality is connecting to the people, the world and your inner self
- Spirituality is an inner sense that you are a small part of a bigger picture
- Spirituality is connection with a god-like being
- Spirituality is finding peace and inner understanding
- Spirituality is seeking meaning in life and death
However, as a school, we have come to an agreement that there is no single definition of spirituality because we recognise that it can mean different, but equally meaningful, things to different people at different times. We believe that a single person’s view of spirituality can change throughout their life.
We aim to give children a range of experiences to develop their own spirituality and refine and reflect on, what it means for them.
The Lenses Through Which We View Spirituality
Our definitions of Spiritual Capacities are guided by the research of Shahne Vickery (2020). These definitions can be found in Appendix 1, alongside mapping of how these are addressed in our school. We explore these with pupils through the concept of windows, mirrors and doors, to enable pupils to see that spirituality is something we...
- Learn about (windows)
- Something that resides within us (mirrors)
- On which we can answer a call to action (doors)
Windows, Mirrors and Doors
Windows, mirrors and doors are taken from the work of Liz Mills (1997) and provide a useful way of articulating spirituality to all stakeholders in school, including pupils.
Windows are for ‘looking out onto the world and becoming aware of its wonders’. Our curriculum offers us opportunities to identify the wonders in the world- both human and natural- and those aspects that make us uncomfortable. In addition, pupils watch Newsround each day to increase awareness of and discuss contemporary issues that help us to see the wonders of the world in action and global issues that cause pain and suffering.
Mirrors are for ‘looking into and reflecting, alone and together, to see things more clearly, for thinking and asking important questions, learning from our own and each other’s responses.
In addition to opportunities to reflect as part of our RE curriculum and assemblies, we also ensure that pupils have the opportunity to reflect through ‘stillness’ in EYFS and guided meditation sessions in KS2. Philosophy for Children (P4C) questions enable pupils to ‘think bigger’, share their views and contribute to those of others to that their thinking may be challenged, extended and deepened.
Doors are for ‘looking through in order to then act or express this in some way in response; for moving on, making choices and doing something creative, active and purposeful in response’.
We encourage children to ‘be the change you wish to see in the world’ and our focus on Courageous Advocacy supports children to make positive change inspired by others before them. In Year 6, we teach public speaking lessons to ensure that children leave with the confidence and skills to make themselves heard.
Mills, L. (1997) The Doughnut and the Hole Oxford: Farmington Institute
Vickery, S. (2020) Spiritual Capacities in a Christian Context: Imaginor
Spirit- the part of a person which is the centre of emotions and character.
Soul- the spiritual part of a human being or animal
Connection- a feeling of belonging to or having affinity with a particular person or group
Empathy- the ability to understand and share the feelings of another