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Spirituality crucial in student wellbeing

NEWS | Anne Lim

Wednesday 23 September 2015

Minister, writer and founding director of the Centre for Public Christianity John Dickson has hailed a government document that highlights the importance of “spiritual development” in the learning agenda of NSW public schools.

Dr Dickson says the Wellbeing Framework Document for Schools, released by the Department of Education and Communities in April, draws on the latest psychological literature to give a high place to “spiritual wellbeing”.

The spiritual dimension is framed alongside a child’s cognitive, physical, social, and emotional development as an essential goal of NSW schooling.

“Spiritual wellbeing,” the document says, “relates to our sense of meaning and purpose. It can include our connection to culture, religion or community and includes the beliefs, values and ethics we hold.”

Students succeed and thrive in a school setting when they are “connected with their cultural, religious or spiritual background”, the document concludes.

I ask: What part of the school experience could possibly contribute more to spiritual wellbeing than the current Special Religious Education and Special Education in Ethics programmes?” Dr Dickson wrote on his Facebook page.

He commented that the framework document “reflects the best research into wellbeing, which overwhelmingly notes a positive correlation between religion/spirituality and mental health, religion/spirituality and coping, religion/spirituality and hope, religion/spirituality and optimism, religion/spirituality and meaning and purpose, religion/spirituality and social support.”

The NSW Department has engaged consultants to conduct a review of the implementation of SRE and SEE in government schools, although it is not examining whether SRE or SEE should be offered.

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