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The Spirit of the Child


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Table of Contents

Preface to the First Edition. Preface to the Revised Edition. Part I: Orientation. 1. What is Spirituality and Why Is It Important? 2. The Social Destruction of Spirituality. 3. Children's Spirituality - What We Know Already. 4. A Geography of the Spirit. Part II: Investigation. 5. How do you Talk with Children about Spirituality? 6. Listening to Children Talking, by Rebecca Nye. 7. Identifying the Core of Children's Spirituality, by Rebecca Nye. Part III: Reflection. 8. The Naturalness of Relational Consciousness. 9. Nurturing the Spirit of the Child. 10. Developments Since 1998. Notes. Bibliography. Index.

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A case for the inclusion of spiritual awareness as a cross-curricular element in the school syllabus

About the Author

David Hay is a zoologist and Honorary Senior Research Fellow of the Department of Divinity and Religious Studies at the University of Aberdeen. For the past 11 years he has also been a visiting professor at the Institute for the Study of Religion at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. David was formerly Reader in Spiritual Education at the University of Nottingham, where he directed the Children's Spirituality Project. He is also a former director of the Alister Hardy Research Centre in Oxford. Rebecca Nye is a child psychologist and a member of staff in the faculty of Divinity at Cambridge University.


Reviews of the first edition 'This book has rapidly become a classic of children's spirituality. It provides an empirical and a conceptual basis for the idea of relational spirituality, an understanding that is not only of great practical interest to teachers, clergy and parents, but creates the groundwork for a prophetic protest against forces in the modern world that would undermine the natural spirituality of human beings. It is not only refreshingly clear in an area often somewhat confused, but offers original insights into the lives and attitudes of young children.' - John M Hull is Professor of Practical Theology in the Queen's Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in Birmingham and Emeritus Professor of Religious Education at the University of Birmingham, England. 'Today I find references to The Spirit of the Child in many different fields, including education theory, human development, psychology and sociology. It is the classic text for exploring spirituality in children, and an enduring resource for present need and future research.' - Professor David Tacey, La Trobe University, Australia; author of The Spirituality Revolution 'The Spirit of the Child...is currently the seminal book on children's spirituality on the international scene.' - Christian Education Journal 'Very, very impressive.' - Professor Andrew Greeley, University of Chicago [One of best known sociologists of religion in the world, with a US nationally syndicated newspaper column on religion.] 'For many people, this was a ground-breaking research study...many, perhaps most, subsequent research studies made use of their definitions of spirituality and the broad perspective of spirituality that encompasses all children everywhere.' - Professor Don Ratcliff, Toccoa Falls College 'David Hay and Rebecca Nye have done outstanding research in this difficult, yet most important area. Almost all children are born with a spiritual potential, but how are we to recognize its specificity in a given case and how to foster its development - rather than to let it wither away or even corrupt it unwittingly? Reading this volume will help all involved to understand these issues more deeply, and to contribute more to the blossoming of a child's spirituality.' - Professor K. Helmut Reich, School of Consciousness Studies and Sacred Values, Rutherford University 'It is difficult not to be beguiled by Hay's analysis. What might be called its seamless holisticity, its concern to wed the spiritual to practical and altruistic purpose, and its lack of religious dogmatism (despite Hay's professed Roman Catholic affiliation) provide a sophisticated argument for educational and social purposiveness.' - Clive Erricker, Editor, International Journal of Children's Spirituality 'I have just re-read The Spirit of the Child after seven years. It was recently used in a course I taught at General Theological Seminary in New York City. The book is still as fresh and exciting today as it was seven years ago. You cannot ask for a better team of writers to produce such a volume. I have admired David Hay's work since his days at the Alister Hardy Research Centre at Manchester College, Oxford and his wonderful book, Exploring Inner Space. Dr. Hay is a biologist and experienced researcher in this field as well as an insightful commentator who sets the stage for the research described in The Spirit of the Child. He also contributes to the research, and then follows up with some practices that might be used to help children develop spiritually. Dr. Nye, a child psychologist attached to The Divinity School at Cambridge University, is a gifted and insightful researcher with an informed ability and deep intuition for knowing and being with children. As with Piaget, Winnicott and a handful of others the children knew they could talk to Dr. Nye and that they would be understood and safe. It is no wonder that this team has produced such a valuable resource about children's spirituality! I recommend this volume without reservation for reading and re-reading.' - The Reverend Dr. Jerome W. Berryman, author of Godly Play, Executive Director, Center for the Theology of Childhood, Houston

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