I have always been in the field of early childhood education, and as a teacher it has been my responsibility to help students, of various age groups, learn. I have worked with children from ages 0 to 8, with middle schoolers between 11 and 13, with undergraduate college students between 17 and 28 years of age, and with teachers and professors of all ages.
I started out believing that my goal was to teach content matter and skills, especially to the older groups of students. I wanted my students to have an enriched experience; nevertheless assessment was always geared towards determining what they had learned and how well they grasped the material we had studied. As I gained experience in the field I realized that while it is important to know many things and know how to do many others, at the end what is most important is the type of person we are. Our values and our beliefs are what influence our behavior, and they ultimately determine who we are through our actions.
Through this realization I started focusing more on hidden curriculum aspects like moral development, values, character education, and finally came to be very interested in spirituality. Currently, this is my topic of interest and I have started to read and do research in the field. As a doctoral student I am interested in how spirituality is developed and how it manifests itself in children from an early age. I would also like to explore in more depth spirituality as an experience separate from organized religion, and begin to understand it as a way of life and not mainly as a set of beliefs.
In terms of my research project and dissertation, I am thinking of exploring different options of how to incorporate spirituality into the early childhood classroom. How would this look? Would it be possible to consider this in public school settings in the U.S.? What has been done here and in other countries? Is there an interest in this topic? Is there a need?
I think that my particular interest in spirituality reflects my values and beliefs, and the current state of mind in which I find myself in this point of my personal development. I have struggled with religion and my beliefs in God, and the ways they were instill upon me since childhood. Finally, I think I am coming to a place where I am ready to not only address my issues with spirituality but also work toward helping others grapple with theirs, or maybe even help nurture their spirituality from a young age, so that it does not represent such a struggle for them.
I am very enthusiastic and motivated about this project which I am immersing myself into, and hope that it will bring positive results for all whom I reach and incorporate in the process.
My personal spiritual path has many components and while trying to make sense of it I developed this puzzle which portrays my thoughts. It is an attempt to organize all the pieces that conform my spirituality as I navigate through life. There are still some pieces missing, and others that are present whose meanings I haven't quite figured out yet, so it is most certainly a work in progress. This is me, spiritually, at age 33.