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Exploring Spirituality and Culture in Adult and Higher Education



Exploring Spirituality and Culture in Adult and Higher Education

Elizabeth J. Tisdell

ISBN: 978-0-787-97124-3 June 2003 Jossey-Bass 320 Pages


Exploring Spirituality and Culture in Adult and Higher Education is written from the unique perspective of teacher, researcher, and author Elizabeth Tisdell who has extensive experience dealing with culture, gender, and educational equity issues in secular adult and higher education classrooms, and formerly in pastoral and religious education settings on college campuses. This important book discusses how spiritual development is informed by culture and how this knowledge is relevant to teaching and learning. For educators, an understanding of how spirituality is informed by culture, and how spirituality assists in meaning-making, can aid in their efforts to help their students' educational experiences become more transformative and culturally relevant.


Part I: Breaking the Silence: Spirituality and Culture in Adult Meaning-Making and Education 1

1. Introduction: Culture, Spirituality, and Adult Learning 3

2. Breaking the Silence: Defining Spirituality in a Culturally Relevant Educational Context 25

3. Spirituality, Religion, and Culture in Lived Experience: Overlaps and Separations 45

4. Between the Cultural and the Universal: Themes and Variations of Spiritual Experience 67

Part II: Claiming a Sacred Face: Identity and Spiritual Development 89

5. The Great Spiral: Spiritual Development as a Process of Moving Forward and Spiraling Back 93

6. Gender, Culture, and Spiritual Identity in Midlife Integration 117

7. The Role of Spiritual Experience in Developing a Positive Cultural Identity 139

8. Searching for Wholeness: Crossing Culture, White Identity, and Spiritual Development 163

Part III: Spirituality in a Culturally Relevant and Transformative Teaching Practice 183

9. Approaching Transformative Teaching Grounded in Spirituality and Cultural Relevance 187

10. A Theory-in-Progress of a Spiritually Grounded, Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Philosophical Underpinnings and New Directions 203

11. Stories from the Field: Spirituality and Culture in Adult Higher Education Classrooms 219

12. The Possibilities and Challenges of Spiritually Grounded, Culturally Relevant Teaching 235

Epilogue: Final Reflections 259

Appendix: Research Methodology 263

References 271

Index 285

"This should prove to be a groundbreaking volume. Every adult educator will benefit from engaging in the conversation." (PAACE Journal of Lifelong Learning, Summer 2004)

"...this book makes an important contribution to a new and growing body of knowledge." (Journal of College Student Development, December 2003)

"A Professor of Adult Education describes How Spirituality Can Be a Valuable Teaching Tool" (By Dana Sobyra in The Chronicle of Higher Education)

"The work is an easy read, not overly laden with references but enough to give it authority." (, 10/8/03)