Relating for learning : teaching to nurture children's spiritual growth : a grounded theory study of New Zealand teachers making students' learning significant in their schooling : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Ph. D. in Education at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand

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Massey University
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The thesis proffers a theory called relating for learning about spiritually nurturing teaching, generated using grounded theory research. Spirituality is defined as that to do with the part of a human being that transcends human life, that is to say, that to do with the soul. The human lifetime is understood as but a phase in the growth of the soul, and, therefore, all of life is a spiritual journey. Knowing is consciousness of relationships in one's life and what is known is always known in relation to oneself. Furthermore, learning, which is understood, in the thesis, to be the means by which human beings come to know and progress through life, is seen as spiritual growth. Teachers, who are in the business of serving others by assisting them with their learning, are in a prime position to nurture their students' spirituality. The call in the New Zealand Health and Physical Well-being curriculum statement for school teachers to tend to the spiritual well-being of their students is therefore appropriate, although the directness of the request is unprecedented in New Zealand schooling history and teachers are unsure of just what it means for their practice. The broad aims of the doctoral research inquiry are to add to existing understandings of the place of spirituality in New Zealand state school education, and to explore the practical implications of the new understandings for teachers and other educationists. 'Continuing the conversation' (Josselson, 1999) about spirituality in education, and about spiritual nurturance in particular, is important at this time when school teachers are overtly expected to tend to students' spiritual well-being. The relating for learning theory is generated from nine practicing teachers' ideas and talk, and observations of the teachers interacting with students. The theory proffers a psychology of teachers relating to students to nurture their spiritual growth. It identifies establishing and maintaining a trusting, learning-directed relationship with each student as essential to effective teaching. The relationship involves the student trusting the teacher as a capable educational leader, and trusting that the teacher respects and cares for the student. The student's trust, in turn, facilitates the teacher gaining the information and conditions required to effectively develop the student as a learner and assist the student to learn the formal curriculum
Moral education, Effective teaching, New Zealand