Holistic Religious Education: Toward a More Transparent Pathway from Philosophy to Practice
The challenge to match philosophy with practice is an age-old concern. For Seventh-day Adventist Education, the challenge is no different. Within this context rests religious education. In this more specific realm, this challenge has been impeded in a number of different ways. Two are relevant to this study. The Adventist religious education classroom could well be considered a nexus for the purposes of Adventist educational philosophy. It holds much potential for holistic, authentic faith formation. There is evidence to suggest however, that in recent years, instruction in religious education within the context of Adventist Education has been somewhat paralysed by the dichotomies emerging from enlightenment and modernism; the fracturing of reason and emotion, thinking and acting. This has lead to practice that has been typified by a predominantly cognitive, information-driven emphasis. Such a characterization has had implications for the nurture of holistic faith, and the purposes of Adventist education have been compromised as a result. In addition to this, as with any educational practice, there exists within the teaching of religious education the propensity to divorce what is philosophically valued from what is practically applied. The invasion of expedient concerns can obscure what is deemed important, and the result is one of idealistic erosion. It is believed that a tool that can remind the teacher of holistic, aspirational goals can be of benefit to both pedagogy and student experience. The pathway between philosophy and practice can then be viewed with more transparency and authenticity. Recent decades have brought forth much enlightenment in the areas of best educational practice as it relates to holistic, authentic learning, and the crucial ingredients of faith formation for the young. The researcher believes that multiple spheres of influence, not only from the realms of education and faith formation, but also brain research, sociology and psychology have much to offer a holistic approach to religious education that will assist movement towards a personal and established faith. This study seeks to fuse what is relevant from these disciplines and forge ingredients of best practice into a practical tool that can not only make vision and purpose accessible, but holistic religious education, and ultimately spiritual formation more possible. The resulting Transformational Planning Framework offers a re-centering of the focus and modus operandi of religious education. It serves to protect what is valued in Adventist educational philosophy, and propel it towards the ultimate goals it so highly esteems.