Secular schools, spirituality and Maori values

Journal of Moral Education 33 (1):87-95 (2004)

New Zealand has had free, state, secular education since 1877, but just what is meant by secularism is changing. Since the 1980s the growth of Maori education initiatives has mushroomed and these place emphasis on Maori values and beliefs, including spirituality. In addition, in 1999 a definition and statement on spirituality appeared in the health and physical education national curriculum document. This statement referred to values, beliefs, meaning and purpose. It also incorporated a Maori model of well?being which places the spiritual alongside other dimensions of humanity. This article explores the concept of spirituality in secular schooling in New Zealand. Some influences from Maori culture are explored with particular reference to values, ethical decision?making and spirituality. Interviews with Maori teachers highlight how moral decisions often reflect spiritual beliefs and practices. It is argued that schooling has a moral obligation to reflect indigenous values if understanding, respect and cultural identity are to be promoted and cherished. It is also suggested that spirituality challenges what we have traditionally considered as learning at school
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DOI 10.1080/0305724042000199996
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