Towards an epistemological framework for a life orientation programme based on spirituality
Karstens, Anne Christiane
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Spirituality is increasingly becoming a popular concept both in the media and in academic literature. One tendency is to reintegrate spirituality into education, health and other aspects of life. However there is a vast difference between the original concept of spirituality which was based on a Biblical view and many contemporary perceptions thereof. Spirituality is largely seen as being divorced from any specific religion and specific truth claims. Nevertheless it can be stated that spirituality is now seen as a universal human phenomenon. The learning area Life Orientation was implemented in South African schools as part of Outcomes Based Education. This learning area incorporates previous subjects or topics such as career guidance, religious education, health education, physical education and civic education, and is not based on any specific religion. Based on the evidence gathered in questionnaires, discussions and observations in schools, and a close reading of available material, it seems as if there is a lack of a clear epistemological basis in Life Orientation. The learning area Life Orientation is supposed to educate healthy, responsible young people who are able to live productive lives in the new South African democracy. This learning area forms part of the global life skills movement, which in turn is a variant or alternative approach to moral and character education. Effectiveness in the learning area of Life Orientation has not yet been proven, and there is evidence that there are various problems in attaining this ideal. It is therefore suggested that a connection between spirituality as a universal human phenomenon and Life Orientation could improve the quality of Life Orientation education if it would be possible to justify this connection on epistemological grounds. In order to give voice to both teachers and learners in terms of their views, ideas and comments on Life Orientation, questionnaires (for teachers) and focus group interviews (for learners) were utilized. The results of both the empirical research and the literature review indicate that there are various problems in the practice of Life Orientation education. Among many teachers and learners there is a negative feeling towards LO. Furthermore it seems that LO does not succeed in accomplishing its aims. Many teachers would seem to welcome a connection with spirituality. It is therefore concluded that a connection between spirituality and LO would be beneficial. It is possible to develop an epistemological framework where Life Orientation is grounded in spirituality, even though the all-inclusive types of postmodern conceptions of spirituality pose problems which need to be solved. It is concluded that a particularistic approach to spirituality in LO should be advocated.
- Education