0310 GMT July 16, 2018
One of the goals of schools with a religious and spiritual curriculum is to provide quality education that enable students to reach their maximum potential in spiritual maturity, academic excellence, social interaction, physical development, and emotional well-being. Gordon (1998, p. 18) defines education as a “tapestry of intricate colors formed by thousands of conversations in and out of the classroom–conversations sewn into lives of students and faculty as they share the journey of life. He believes that faith conversations should be welcomed, encouraged and intertwined with conversations of academic quality inside the classroom.
It is now a well known fact that faith in God and spirituality contribute to well being and health of human beings. Even in modern societies in the West, where secularism has been in vogue for a long time, many scholars today advocate spirituality and religiosity among students. For instance, Smith (1994, p.5) states: To know God is the greatest need of every child. Schools with religious curriculum have been established with the goal of providing an atmosphere conducive to better knowledge of God. Ellen White suggests that “our ideas of education take too narrow and too low a range” (1952, p. 13) when we focus on academia alone. True education is learning from the “Infinite One in whom are hid all treasures of wisdom” (Col 2:3).
The purpose of a healthy education system is to help students develop a Godlike character. Islam has a rich literature on education, but the heart of the message is basically the same: the focus is on the importance of involving God in the process of education.
There are many studies both in Iran and in other countries indicating that spirituality has a positive impact upon students’ academic performance amongst other things. Students who take the time to commit to spiritual activities enhance their ability to excel academically. The following are some of the studies that support this trend of thought. Some of these studies are mentioned in this article.
Maryam Tabibi, et. al. (2011, p. 79) found that there is a significant positive relationship between spiritual health and academic success of the medical students of Qom Medical University, Iran. The findings of the study also showed that marriage has a positive correlation with spiritual health of the students.
Alireza Bakhshayesh (2011, p. 79) studied the relationship between trust in God and academic achievement of girl middle school of Yazd City, Iran. His study found that there is a significant positive relationship between trust in God and academic achievements. Also his study found that there is a significant positive relationship between self-esteem and academic success.
In his study of release time in public schools—time where students are allowed to be absent from classes to attend spiritual instruction off campus—Hodge (2007) discovered that students participating in these activities do not gain lower academic scores for missing their classes. Instead, it seems that participating in this program enhances their academic achievements (p. 169).
One study on factors that affect academic performance for African-American youths found that church attendance was significant in predicting positive academic outcomes—African- American youths attending church have higher academic outcomes compared to their peers (Williams, et al., 2002).
Another study (Walker & Dixon, 2002) found that spiritual beliefs and religious participation were positively related to academic performance. Students who participated in religious activities and/or had spiritual beliefs had better academic performance. The study raised the important question of how to incorporate spirituality into academic programming
Jeynes (2002) also found that religious schooling and religious commitment both had a positive impact on the academic performance of students and also on their school-related behavior. Students who were committed to their religion were well-behaved in school and had better academic performance.
Line (2005) found a strong relationship between academic performance and personal religiosity, especially in the area of personal scripture study, living up to church standards, and personal prayer life. When students enrich themselves from scripture, abiding by their church standards (regardless of faith) and have a consistent prayer life, their academic performance responds positively. Similarly, in their sample of rural Iowa families, Elder and Conger (2000) found that religiously involved youths tended to excel in school: as their religiosity increased, so did their academic achievement.
One study of Puerto Rican students reported that “all [participants in the study] credited their religiosity as having a positive impact on their high academic achievement” (Antrop-Gonzales, Vellez & Garret, 2007, p. 248). The Puerto Rican students believed that their religiosity played an important role in boosting them from mediocre performance to academic excellence.
In a study of The influence of religion upon the academic performance of youths in disadvantaged communities, Regnerus (2006) found that:
• Church involvement helps students from high-risk neighborhoods to achieve better academic progress more than it helps those who are less at-risk.
• Church involvement appears to have a stable, protective influence which is particularly notable in high-poverty students.
In Regnerus’s conclusion, he voiced a question that is directly related to this discussion:
Why does church attendance impact academic progress positively? His answer, in part, is that church attendance reinforces values conducive to educational achievements such as self confidence, academic competence, emotional health, self control, and decision making are caught through various interactions within the church institutions—family, youth group etc. These interactions positively reinforce upon students the importance of education and encourage them to higher academic achievement.
On the basis of the above findings hence parents are encouraged to improve spirituality among their kids for a healthier life, better academic achievement and wellbeing.
* Seyyedeh Mo’azam Hosseini is a teacher at Shaheed Dr. Bahonar High School, Shiraz, Fars Province.
Alireza Bakhshayesh (2011), “A Study of the Relationship between Trust in God, Self-Esteem and Academic Achievement among Students”, Ravanshenasi-va- Din, Vol.4. No.2, Qom, Iran
Antrop-González, R., Vélez, W., & Garrett, T. The dual role of religiosity on the high academic achievement of Puerto Rican urban high school students: A qualitative analysis. Religion and Education, forthcoming, 2007. http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/Sociology/vitae/velezvita.pdf
Hodge, D. R. (2007). Releasing students from class for spiritual instruction: Does it hinder academic performance? Children & Schools 29(3), 161-171. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.
Jeynes, W. H. (2002). A meta-analysis of the effects of attending religious schools and religiosity on Black and Hispanic academic achievement. Education and Urban Society, 35(1), 27-49. Abstract retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.
Line, C. R. (2005). The relationship between personal religiosity and academic performance among LDS [Latter Day Saints] college students at Brigham Young University (Utah). Retrieved from http://docs.lib. purdue.edu/dissertations/AAI3185795/
Maryam Habibi, et. al. (2011), “A Study of Relationship between Spiritual Health and Academic Achievement of Medical Students of Qom University,” Ravanshenasi-va- Din, Vol.4. No.2, pp. 79-98, Qom, Iran.
Regnerus, M. D. (2006). The influence of religion upon the academic performance of youths in disadvantaged communities. CRIAD report 2006. Retrieved from http://www.baylor.edu/content/services /document.php/25905.pdf
Smith, V. (1994, summer). Bringing children to Christ in the classroom. The Journal of Adventist Education, 58, 5-8.
Walker, K. L. & Dixon, V. (2002). Spirituality and academic performance among African American college students. Journal of Black Psychology 28(2), 107-121. Abstract retrieved from http://jbp.sagepub.com/cgi/ content/abstract/28/2/107.
Williams, T. R., Davis, L. E., Miller, C. J., Saunders, J., & Williams, J. H. (2002). Friends, families and neighborhoods: Understanding academic outcomes of African American youth. Urban Education 37(3), 408-432. Abstract retrieved from Academic Search Premier.