When sparks of excitement fly in the classroom, when tears emerge, when laughter erupts, when students from previous years send notes of gratitude, these moments touch the soul and remind teachers of the reasons they entered the profession. Those ‘moments of being’, as Virginia Woolf once described them, that sense of connectedness, convince you that there is a deeper life of the soul to explore.
The art of knowing oneself, knowing others, and knowing the sacredness of all life are the skills of spiritual literacy and are vitally important to the development of the whole child. Students can nurture a personal spirituality or philosophy that is wise, empathetic and mindful. Teachers and students awaken senses and creativity, foster relationships and community, and value intuition, silence and spiritual diversity. Teachers who do so know they are creating havens of peace and understanding that provide stillness and perspective outside the frenetic pace of modern life.
We thank all those former teachers who have been our guides and those students who have been our teachers, and who like ourselves know in their hearts that education must first nurture the soul. Teaching is an ongoing pilgrimage toward the self and as a mentor once told us, ‘ We teach most what we need to learn.’ “Soul work”, the truest work of any education, is a lifelong journey for teachers and students.
Excerpts from The Compassionate Classroom- Lessons That Nurture Wisdom and Empathy