Advocating for others: Spiritual development in Christian high school English classrooms

Philip A Siemer, Purdue University


Research shows that students are entering college with declining levels of empathy compared with previous generations. A lack of empathy will lead to difficulties in English and other humanities courses: reading texts written by people of different backgrounds and writing for a diverse audience. Because those who lack empathy may ignore injustices, this trend presents an even greater problem in a Christian context, where students should be prepared to seek justice. The purpose of this project is to profile the school where I teach, Chicago Christian High School, in order to provide a pedagogical framework for English classes that combats this trend. The Judeo-Christian concept of shalom, universal flourishing, leads to the two goals for spiritual development in the English courses: reading for empathy and writing advocacy. Some theorists point to hospitality and empathy as goals in English courses, but stop at changing perspectives and before taking action or becoming an advocate. Rather than being a separate goal from academic development, developing Christian virtues like humility, charity, and kindness for advocacy actually leads to skills necessary for academic development.^




Mita Choudhury, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Language arts|Multicultural Education|Religious education|Secondary education

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