Spirituality as a dimension of education: Reimaging and reconstructing teacher education in Latvia
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AbstractNow that education in Latvia has been reconfigured according to the educational regulations of the European Union, it is important to consider contemporary educational philosophy and its wider implications for spirituality as a dimension of education. Spirituality as the general concern of the study is derived from the context and process of education in Latvia. The cultural and historical context emphasizes that spirituality is a constitutive aspect of Latvian identity, nation, and culture formation. Educational theories from the period of its first independence (1918–1940) introduce wide perspectives which describe the quest for spirituality as one of the essential educational issues. Although discussions about the connection of spirituality and education are currently emerging, there is a lack of empirical research on this topic. Thus, this study seeks to add to scholarly research and literature in education and to improve educational practice and educational policy in Latvia by providing a theoretical base for spirituality. Given that spirituality is not explicitly addressed in educational theory in Latvia, it is the teachers' voice which is recognized as a source of information and wisdom about it. Twenty-eight teachers were interviewed to ascertain their understanding of spirituality. The collected data were coded and analyzed according to the methodology of grounded theory. The theoretical framework that was generated from the data proposes the dynamic nature of spirituality as a dimension of education. It claims that even if not explicitly modeled in education theory in Latvia, spirituality is a dimension of education that is ever-present through the convictions and concerns of teachers. The study suggests that teacher education can be enhanced by incorporating three major facets: spiritual literacy as a cross-curriculum issue; spiritual paradox as an image that provides balance; and experiential spirituality as practice to nourish teachers' spirituality. These facets emphasize teachers' critical, symbolic/imaginative, and active involvement in the process of education primarily understood as a spiritual journey.