I’ve been wondering about this big question: environmental education and spirituality; how are they connected... here’s to some raggedy thinking out loud… please comment with what this stirs for you.
For the sake of this response let’s use this definition of spiritually: “Spirituality can be defined generally as an individual's search for ultimate or sacred meaning and purpose in life” from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirituality.
So much of what environmental education is intended to do is create learning experiences for people to better understand how the world works, how systems operate, and how we are not separate from nature or our community but are integral parts of the whole. I wonder if the best environmental educators are weaving spirituality into their work subtly, so much so that their learners are having transformational learning experiences they treasure for a long time.
I am curious to consider if it is necessary for environmental educators to explicitly publicly state that spirituality guides their work or not. Perhaps the way people ‘show up’ in the world is enough. I’m thinking of the concept of ‘preaching the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.’ In my experience, the most authentic amazing educators I have encountered had some type of strong spiritual life (I later learned from them). I can’t help but wonder about how a strong spiritual life gives someone such a grounded existence… and it’s apparent when you spend time with them, yet they never have to tell you about it to sense it.
One more thought. Consider how often we have learners do ‘solos’ while out on wilderness trips, silent journalling, make deep observations and drawings of natural phenonmenon, and the like. I believe these are all spiritual experiences for learner to better connect with the meaning of the natural world from their own unique perspective. They are creating meaning for themselves as they build a relationship with that which they are spending time with.
What do the rest of you think about this question?
Thanks for the rich discussion so far in this thread.