Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An inquiry into relationships between spirituality and language pedagogy
by Bradley, Christopher A., Ed.D., Temple University, 2011, 460; 3477747
Abstract (Summary)

Some psychologists (e.g., Bergin, 1997) have contended that if individuals neglect the world of the spirit, they ignore a foundational aspect of themselves. This must especially be true for language educators, who come from all corners of the globe and thus bring into their classrooms many spiritual views. I define spirituality, following Palmer (2003) as "the eternal human yearning to be connected with something larger than our own egos" (p. 377). Spirituality need not, then, entail belief in a supernatural being or force. The main thrust of Palmer's definition was that educators should seek to forge meaningful and lasting connections with their learners. Although such thinking is common in general education, it has been little addressed in Second Language Education (SLE). Hence, I felt that this inquiry was timely.

I undertook this qualitative case study by analyzing narratives about the turning points in the spiritual journeys of nine language teachers of varying creeds (or who professed no overt spirituality), as well as their stories of how they felt that they applied their spiritual beliefs to classroom teaching. To this end, I interviewed each participant at least twice. After analyzing their interview transcript data, I triangulated the common themes emerging from these data with, where appropriate, the informants' classroom syllabuses, lesson plans, and academic publications. I also attempted to validate the results of this study through member checking.

Three participants felt that their journeys into religious pluralism had strongly influenced their efforts to teach social responsibility and challenging moral dilemmas in their classrooms. Another three held that their tribulations, as well as the resulting comfort they found in spiritual practices, helped them to be nurturing teachers who could understand clearly the pain faced by some of their young charges. Still another three, despite their divergent spiritual paths, all insisted that they sought to teach in an ethical, caring manner. Finally, most of the informants, regardless of their spiritual backgrounds or views, spoke of the importance of transformation, ethics, and connection (nurturing) to their pedagogy. I conclude the study by positing implications of the aforementioned findings for research and practice.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Casanave, Christine Pearson
Commitee: Beglar, David, O'Mochain, Robert, Sawyer, Mark, Schaefer, Kenneth G.
School: Temple University
Department: CITE/Language Arts
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-A 73/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Teacher education, Spirituality, Education philosophy
Keywords: Connection, Language, Language pedagogy, Nurturing, Spirituality, TESOL, Teaching
Publication Number: 3477747
ISBN: 9781124946252
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