Students must feel safe, secure, and comfortable in order to be successful, thus a nurturing environment is necessary and important for self-actualization to be achieved (O’Connor, 2008). Educators have a big part in the process of nurturing spiritual development, as they are the ones that set the tone for the classroom and ensure that an efficient and effective learning environment is provided. Allowing students to participate in and practice their religious beliefs, as well as understanding and incorporating activities and lessons that allow for students to share and demonstrate their beliefs, create an environment where students are able to work towards individual fulfillment of social needs.
In United States, after years of listening to students’ stories and questions, Rachael Kessler (2005) developed a program called Passageworks and said certain experiences, aside from religious beliefs or affiliations, have a powerful effect in sustaining the youth’s spiritual development. These experiences were derived from the students’ needs for connection, silence, meaning, joy, and transcendence. The program can help teachers establish a classroom environment in which students feel safe to explore these needs.
Unlike the growing programs for youth spirituality amassed in the West, Filipino youth who are mostly still students and predominantly Roman Catholic, are shifting between religions and affiliation to the Evangelical faiths which rises among them (Xenos, 1999); and a tenfold increase in youth participation in prayer meetings and Bible study groups has been reported in the McCann-Erickson findings (1993), as cited in Sta. Maria(2007). This shows that the youth is in search for active spiritual programs in finding and developing their own spirituality during their maturing stage.
Benson (2003) defined spiritual development as: The process of growing the intrinsic human capacity for self-transcendence, in which the self is embedded in something greater than the self, including the sacred. It spirituality is the developmental “engine” that propels the search for connectedness, meaning, purpose, and contribution. It spirituality is shaped both within and outside of religious traditions, beliefs, and practices.
Until the late 1990’s there was little discussion of spirituality or spiritual development in student affairs and student development literature (Love, 1999).They pointed out that higher education professionals did not consider spiritual development as an important aspect of student development.
Higher education institutions in the United States have been successful in helping students develop the expertise needed to be successful in the material world through the study of science, medicine, technology, and business. However, higher education has not paid much attention to the student’s “inner” development which includes, among other areas, spiritual development (Chickering, 2006). This proves the statement of Love and Talbot true.
On the other hand, the family is the source of religious instruction for Filipinos, which may be supported secondarily within the school context (Philippine Social Science Council, 2003). In surveys conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) in 1996 (as cited in Philippine Social Science Council, 2003), majority of Filipino adolescents (99.6%) believe in God, consider themselves (81.64%) to be “religious persons,” pray at least once a day (66.7%), and claim to attend religious services once a week (67.8%). Consistent findings are found in Lippman and Keith’s(2006) analysis of the 1999-2001 World Values Survey of 41 countries, wherein a high proportion of Filipino youth report a belief in God (99.5%), importance of God (86.6%), and religion (86.9%) in their lives. The influences on Filipino adolescents’ spiritual development bear some similarities with those in other countries.
This study contributes to the body of knowledge as to whether spiritual programs will be a factor of students’ spiritual development and if there are sufficient and efficient programs to attain the expected outcome of their spirituality. The participants of the study are from the senior high school and college students of a private secular school.
This study is significant most especially students at this age starts in their maturing stage which will be pivotal in their whole identity. This also benefits the future researchers by giving them a scope about the impact of spiritual programs to the spiritual development of human beings.
This also benefits the educators in making a classroom a more spiritual-active environment for the students. Moreover, this can benefit the Spirituality Center of the institution to provide more number and better activities and programs, if needed.
These are the components of spiritual development:
Personal Relationship with God
A personal relationship with God is meeting God, but necessarily seeing Him visibly. This happens for He is omnipotent and He is able to go to a much deeper level than the