Article Review: ‘I saw the universe and I saw the world’: Exploring Spiritual Literacy with Young Children in a Primary Classroom by Marni J. Binder
Over the last two quarters in various classes, I have been exploring the idea of holistic education and how to broaden our understanding of education to engage the inner life of students. While there are a lot of great books providing the philosophies that may guide such an approach, it is difficult to know how to follow that philosophy with good practice. In this article Marni J. Binder writes the story about how she promotes spiritual literacy in her classroom.
Binder begins by exploring what she means by spiritual literacy and why it is important. She relies on research in children’s spirituality coupled with the concept of holistic education. In the introduction Binder provides a comprehensive theoretical framework to guide the remainder of the paper, which focuses on spiritual literacy practices she uses in the classroom. In her classroom each week the children engage in a visualization session. The children are given something to focus on and then provided the space to reflect on it through journaling, drawing, and silence. They then dialogue about the session. She tells fascinating stories of how the children respond to these visualization sessions. Binder then goes on to describe the concept of mindful spaces, and how mindful spaces are interwoven into various aspects of the daily curriculum.
The examples Binder shares about how to use spiritual literacy are valuable. Even more valuable is the narrative she provides about experiences she has with children through visualization sessions and mindful spaces, and the way she approaches children with a level of respect and dignity that honors the work they do in those spaces.
This article is great for teachers, particularly teachers of primary grades, who are interested in providing a space in the classroom and curriculum to engage the inner lives of children. Those interested in knowing more about how children respond to practices like visualization sessions and mindful spaces, like parents, grandparents, caregivers, children’s ministry directors, can really learn a lot from this article.
Binder, M. J. (2011). ‘I saw the universe and I saw the world’: exploring spiritual literacy with young children in a primary classroom. International Journal of Children’s Spirituality,16(1), 19-35.