Moral Relativism at an Elite School: What Should a Teacher Do?

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My students’ apathetic response to a clip from the movie “The Corporation” about a day trader’s enthusiastic response to the devastation of 911 and the invasion of Iraq in 1991 prompted inner soul searching about the efficacy of teaching elite international school students. Continue reading

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Practice Makes Perfect: A Missing Piece in Teaching for Purpose

Even back in 2011 I was grappling with how to teach for purpose in my “Service, Society, and the Sacred” class. This blog entry shares some new insights I’ve had recently about how to facilitate student growth towards this most vital of life tasks.

Introduction

Most of us would probably agree that gaining a life purpose is among the most important ingredients of a life well-lived. It appears so fundamental to personal fulfilment and social progress that it seems imperative that we teach about it in our schools. But last semester when a classroom conversation segued my Humanities I in Action curriculum into a 3-day exploration of purpose, a brief survey of the internet and reviewing resources I read during my doctoral studies left me fairly clueless how to teach towards this goal. Indeed, my own daughter, Christa, who is working with a leading researcher in the field, explains that we are only at the beginning of understanding purpose from a research perspective. Thus, we educators are left in a quandary: how do we teach students about this all-important goal of purpose? Continue reading

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What is Love? Exploring Human Yearning for the Divine with Llewellyn Vaughan – Lee

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Llewellyn Vaughan – Lee is a Sufi teacher who has had mystical experiences since his teenage years. As a Sufi, he focuses on connecting to God through the yearnings of the heart, which when realized turn everything on its head. I was particularly taken by a teaching video on love in which he eloquently – even rapturously – explores his own experiences in the context of the Sufi understanding of love. Continue reading

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Pedagogy of the Planetarium: Journeying Beyond Outer Space

WhatsApp Image 2019-07-02 at 12.27.19 AM.jpegHolding aloft a yellow-tinted orb, the masterful presenter dramatically finished the Griffiths Observatory planetarium show “Centered in the Universe” with a final word: “Looking through a telescope, we are coming to know our home.” This was his response to those universal human questions with which he began the show: who am I, where did we come from, and why are we here? As he slowly delivered his final archetypal line, he brought the glowing sphere from above his head to his torso, where it came to rest as a darkened globe at his heart. I sat motionless, contemplating this act of educational theatre that spoke to me of my whole pedagogical philosophy in a simple gesture. Continue reading

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“It Broke Me:” Sex Education, Despair, and Empowerment in South India

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Sammi and one of the Indian girls sharing warm words and a hug after HKIS girls shared their feminine hygiene lesson plan.

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The Wisdom School Model: Implications for a “Spiritual Explorations” Curriculum

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“Wisdom Schools are a format for integral learning that’s based in some of the deepest kind of roots for transformation and change in the Christian tradition…It’s been a classic way that human beings have handed on Wisdom since time immemorial. The vision that human beings as we are not only can transform, not only can grow, but also have a different kind of consciousness that results in a different kind of presence in the world. Wisdom schools are about awakening the yearning for that presence and then developing the skills and the knowledge base to apply that, to transform your own life and the life of people around you.”

-Cynthia Bourgeault

Introduction

HKIS is embarking on a bold educational experiment by creating a Wellness block for each student each year at the high school, consisting of classes in PE (body), counseling (mind), and religion (heart). The religion courses’ contribution to this effort is a 4-year curriculum called “Spiritual Explorations” (SPEX), 20 classes a year aimed to support the spiritual lives of students. In this blog, I’d like to sketch out the essentials of a Wisdom School and share implications from my retreat experience to further develop the SPEX curriculum. Continue reading

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Opening the Soul Cage

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Dear students,

What I would like you to hear, as you enter into a high school career that will challenge you in every way, is a universal message from the world’s Wisdom traditions about your true identity. Think of all the most positive qualities you enjoy – contentment, empathy, forgiveness, creativity, gratefulness, morality, unconditional love. These concepts are universally revered as among our most cherished values, and we associate them with Divine Reality as well as with the most cultivated traits of human beings.

The message from the world’s religions is that these things are your essence. What we most desire in God and what we most admire in others also lies at the heart who you are. Continue reading

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