About the conference

About Warren A. Nord

Workshop Descriptions

 Past conferences


In celebration of John Dewey's birthday, The John Dewey Project presents its 3rd Annual Conference:
 "Religion, Spirituality, and Education"
Keynote Address by Warren A. Nord, author of Religion & American Education: Rethinking a National Dilemma 

Saturday, October, 23, 1999 
At the University of Vermont Burlington, Vermont 

****  Keynote Lecture, Panel Discussion, and Workshops  ****

About the conference:
Every year, the John Dewey Project on Progressive Education hosts a conference to celebrate the birthday of John Dewey. Timed to coincide with Vermont's State Teachers' Convention, this year's theme "Religion, Spirituality, and Education" acknowledges some of the complex issues educators encounter in a culturally and religiously diverse society.

The Keynote Address entitled Religion, Spirituality, and Education on the eve of the 21st Century was deliverd by Professor Warren A. Nord of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.  Professor Nord is the author of Religion & American Education: Rethinking a National Dilemma and co-author with Charles C. Haynes of Taking Religion Seriously Across The Curriculum.

 Co-hosts of the conference are Kathleen Kesson, Director of the John Dewey Project, and Robert Nash, Professor of Education  and Integrated Professional Studies.  Dr. Nash has recently published a book on the topic of religion and education, Faith, Hype, and Clarity: Teaching About Religion in America.  Dr. Kesson has recently published a book (with Jim Hnderson) on educational leadership entitled Understanding Democratic Curriculum Leadership.

Workshop Descriptions and Presenter Biographies
Workshop Session I

A. Spiritual Perspectives on Child Development  - Ron Miller
In recent years holistic educators and psychologists have explored the observations of Steiner, Montessori and others that the human being unfolds from within according to archetypal patterns that transcend biology and cognitive psychology. We will consider implications of this new developmental understanding for educational practice.

Ron Miller is the executive editor of Paths of Learning magazine and was previously the founding editor of Holistic Education Review.  He is the author of What are Schools For? Holistic Education in American Culture, co-founder of the Bellwether School in Williston, Vermont, and adjunct faculty member in Teacher Education at Goddard College.

B. Diverse Perspectives on Spirituality in Education  - Aostre N. Johnson
If spiritual dimensions of the person are to be nourished in public schools or other pluralistic educational settings, many voices must be invited to join conversations exploring the meaning of spirituality.  This workshop will examine a number of ways of defining spirituality and its relationship to education, based on both current literature and surveys of practicing teachers.  Participants will be asked to reflect on their own perspectives and how these might apply to their educational contexts.

Aostre N. Johnson is Associate Professor in Education and the coordinator of a new program in Spirituality and Education at St. Michael’s College.  She writes about spiritual and aesthetic dimensions of human development and curriculum.

C. Science & Spirituality: Conflict or Complement  - A. Ed Goode
In this workshop we will explore the problematic relationship between science and religion. We will review the impact of the scientific revolution on religion, examine the several ways of relating science and religion, and explore the possibilities of integrating the scientific with the spiritual.

Ed Goode, after an initial academic grounding in the Western Philosophical tradition, worked as a field biologist and for the past eighteen years as an educator in both private and public schools.

D. Teaching Non-Violence And The Practice Of Peace In A College Humanities Course            - Richard J. Prystowsky
Introducing college students to studies in the humanities involves helping them to understand how to engage in humanistic inquiries into some of the most pressing problems and enduring teachings in human history.  Learning about these problems and studying these teachings, one begins to realize that for many great thinkers (for example, Socrates, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., or Thich Nhat Hanh), ideals are meant to be practiced, and not just understood or preached.  This workshop will explore the ways in which a college humanities class can rely on the humanistic study of nonviolence and the practice of peace to provide students with an especially enriched educational experience, in which they discover not only the unity of deep spiritual truths, but also the paths to their own most important truths about living mindfully and in peace.

Richard J. Prystowsky is a professor of English and humanities and the Chair of the Department of English at Irvine Valley College, a small community college located in Irvine, California.  He has written or lectured on a variety of topics, including education, psychoanalysis and literature, and the Holocaust.  He is the author of a college-level writing text, Careful Reading, Thoughtful Writing, and is the editor of the new journal Paths of Learning: Options for Families and Communities.

Workshops Session II

A. Creating Ourselves in God's Image: Singularly Perfect or Perfectly Diverse?
                - Kyle Dodson
Throughout history men and women have sought to perfect themselves in the image of their God.  It follows logically that the type of person one might strive to become would be largely dependent on one's interpretation of God.  It would seem that the more complex an understanding one has of who God was/is and what he/she represents, the more rich and varied are the options one has for ways in which to glorify him or her.  This workshop will explore the ways in which the tensions between the various and seemingly contradictory things we know about the historical figure-God-might offer us a vision of how we might be able to better reconcile, honor, and celebrate human differences.

Kyle Dodson is the Director of the Academic Internship Program at St. Michael’s College. His duties include teaching and coordinating the peer tutoring program.  In addition to directing the Foundation for Excellent School’s One More Step mentorship program, Mr. Dodson is a member of the Board of Directors of the Lake Champlain Basin Science Center and Burlington City Arts.

B. Exploring Spirituality with Preadolescent Students - Madelyn A. Nash
This workshop will examine ways to help preadolescents explore the spiritual dimensions of the self that define who they are and how and what drives them to be their best selves as they come to live together in a respectful community of learners.

Madelyn A. Nash is both an educator and a school counselor whose special interests include mediation and ways to create a caring community in the classroom and the school.  She has worked in both urban and rural schools and is currently a school counselor at Orchard School in South Burlington.

C. Rethinking Dewey's Theory of Experience: A Spiritual Perspective
- Kathleen Kesson
John Dewey's largely misunderstood theory of experience guides much progressive education practice today.  From a contemporary spiritual perspective, Dewey's theory leaves unanswered some important questions.  This workshop will provide an overview of Dewey's theory and suggest some additional dimensions educators might wish to consider in their development of a richer, more comprehensive concept of human experience.

Kathleen Kesson is the Director of the John Dewey Project on Progressive Education at the University of Vermont, and Director of Teacher Education at Goddard College.  In her recent book Understanding Democratic Curriculum Leadership (with Jim  Henderson), she explores the "mythopoetic" dimension of human experience.

D. Achieving Praxis: Bridges Values and Actions - Christopher  J. Koliba
Many educators are forced to compromise their spiritual values in order to achieve “success” in educational settings.  In this workshop, an understanding of “praxis” as a cycle of reflection and action will be introduced.  Participants will be encouraged to reflect on, and share with others, their own experiences, experiments and challenges in trying to wed values to actions.

Christopher Koliba is Research Assistant Professor with the John Dewey Project on Progressive Education.  His teaching and research interests include service-learning, participatory action research, reflective practice, democratic participation and civil society.  He is a student of learning circles and group process, and admittedly struggles in his efforts to ground his educational practices in his sense of spirituality.

E. Losing Our Religion: Are Our Students Struggling in Silence? - Judy Raper
While it would seem that secularization should have widened the circle of conversation around spiritual and religious issues, it has instead lead to a silence around religious diversity that is numbing to the hearts and minds of university students.  At a time when these values should be most deeply probed, they are instead largely ignored and even discounted.  During this workshop, we will explore our own potential hesitancy to probe these issues and the cost of spiritual negligence. We will also discuss the role that college administrators and faculty can play in helping students explore their most deeply felt values and beliefs.

Judy Raper graduated from Indiana University in 1986 and majored in Elementary Education.  She received her Masters in Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration from UVM in 1988, and her Doctorate-UVM, Policy and Leadership Studies, May 1999.  She is currently the Assistant Dean of Campus Life at Lyndon State College.

Presentation Panel Participants.

Roddy O'Neil Cleary, Affiliate Minister, Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington.  Roddy O'Neil Cleary spent 15 years as a campus minister at UVM. She also teaches courses in "Women's Spirituality" in the Women's Studies Program. Currently she is the Affiliate Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Society in Burlington.

A. Ed Goode, High School Science Teacher, Twinfield School.  Ed Goode after an initial academic grounding in the Western Philosophical tradition worked as a field biologist and for the past eighteen years as an educator in both private and public schools.

Meera Pillai, Scholar of Special Education and the Literature of India.  Meera Pillai is a student in the doctoral program in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at UVM.  She is a trained special educator and has taught courses in British, American and Indian literature for ten years, in India, and more recently, at the University of Vermont.

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