Nurturing the spirit or quenching it through coercion? An exploration of the tensions in nurturing children
Australian Christian Forum on Education Inc.
Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences
School of International, Cultural and Community Studies
The concept of children's spirituality is now firmly on the agenda ofchildhood studies, as evident in research, curriculum development and conference topics. A consistent note in this focus is that spirituality is a wide concept which is expressed in various ways, most specifically in religious traditions. David Hay (Hay & Nye 1999) has identified in children a core spiritual dimension, but argues that in the current economic rationalist culture there is no forum for children to explore or foster their spirituality. Hay's research indicated that "the church" has a bad press with the young. Yet his definition of spirituality as "relational consciousness" offers Christianity a place as the ideal response to provide the bridge from a more general spiritual sensitivity into personal faith, with its core concepts ofrelationship; belonging to God and one another; loving one another; forgiving; healing fractured relationships; and fostering the attachment, intimacy and appropriate limits characteristic of psychosocial, intellectual and spiritual well-being.