Awakened Schools: A Theoretical Framework for Engaging Students’ Innate Capacity for Interconnectedness

Conference: The IAFOR International Conference on Education in Hawaii (IICE2022)
Title: Awakened Schools: A Theoretical Framework for Engaging Students’ Innate Capacity for Interconnectedness
Stream: Mind, Brain & Psychology: Human Emotional & Cognitive Development & Outcomes within Educational Contexts
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
Amy Chapman, Columbia University, United States


Much research has been done around the implementation and benefits of social and emotional learning. In spite of this good research, the field of SEL lacks a theoretical, rather than outcomes-based, grounding, in particular in ways that extend beyond curriculum-based approaches (Weissberg et al., 2013). There have been calls from within the field of SEL to go deeper into the inner life of children (Lantieri, 2002). In this presentation, we propose a conceptual framework for this deeper form of whole child education by building on Shulman’s (1986; 1987) pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) to understand how teachers create awakened classrooms. Awakened classrooms support students’ cognitive development in ways which allow students to use enhanced perception, engage in multiple perspective-taking, and foster discernment (Miller, 2015; 2021). We use the term spirituality as a shorthand for accessing these parts of the brain: spirituality is the innate human capacity to feel interconnected with others and the greater world, rather than any particular beliefs or practices. Based on three years of research which examined how teachers created awakened classrooms (Chapman et al., 2021; Chapman et al., in press), we created a professional development program to design awakened classrooms. Nurturing innate spirituality in the classroom requires the development of a complex, situated form of knowledge that we call Spiritual Pedagogical Content Knowledge (SPCK). This presentation will share this conceptual framework, which aims to understand the complexity and interplay of the three components of an awakened classroom: spirituality, pedagogy, and content.

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