The Spiritual Guidance Institute recently spent a fabulous week together at our spring residential institute. We camped out at the Cenacle Center, a wonderfully hospitable retreat center on the northside of Chicago. The week’s activities were quite varied: We incorporated teachings on development and the enneagram, practiced deep listening with our unique methodology Pure Presence, had a day of silence, ate community meals together, met with a Cenacle sister, and visited the Hindu Temple in Lemont, an Ash Wednesday service at a Presbyterian church, IMAN (Inner-city Muslim Action Network), and a Muslim/Christian dialogue dinner. It was a week to remember!
We feel grateful to our students for the productive conversations and presence during the week. And we are grateful to our friends who hosted us and shared their sacred stories with us.
Our next cohort will begin in August 2019. An interfaith immersion experience like this could be yours! Learn more.
The mystic and philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, famously said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” When we pursue the spiritual life, we pursue the human life. What does it mean to be human? And, what does it mean for a child to be human? In this essay, I suggest how parents’ understanding and practice of the zone of proximal development (ZPD) and scaffolding enable children to be and become more human.
Lev Vygotsky defined the ZPD as "the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem-solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers". The ZPD is significant when a skill may be too difficult to grasp on their own. In this zone, the adult or peer provides guidance, support, and/or encouragement to the child, which helps them operate at a higher level within the zone. The adult or peer is constantly modifying the task in order for the child to amplify understanding.
While Vygotsky never used the term scaffolding, David Wood, Jerome Bruner, and Gail Ross define scaffolding as a process "that enables a child or novice to solve a task or achieve a goal that would be beyond [their] unassisted efforts." Scaffolding entails activities facilitated by an adult or peer (e.g. modeling, making meaning of seemingly insignificant actions, or breaking down a task into smaller tasks, to name a few) that support the child in the ZPD. The goal is for the child to be able to complete the task on their own. Both the ZPD and scaffolding promote knowledge and understanding for the child.
The ZPD and scaffolding also provide a way for children to make ethical choices and ask questions about their existence. Adults and peers can engage in conversations with children that invite them to answer the how and why questions children have and make meaning of them. At a Parliament of World’s Religions breakfast last week week, I learned about the interreligious organization Spiritual Playdate, where facilitators create opportunities for dialogue between adult and child around spiritual issues. Together, they “explore and discover beliefs…”. Exploration and discovery are very different than monologues by adults about what a child ought to believe. The emphasis is more on being and becoming than believing, belonging, or behaving (to borrow a phrase from Elizabeth Drescher’s Choosing Our Religion).
Within trusting and safe environments and relationships, children try on new and different identities and behaviors; they question their values, preferences, and motives; and they explore and discover what it means to be human. The concepts of the ZPD and scaffolding offer insights into why we can’t be neutral, non-participating adults when it comes to nurturing the humanness of children. Rather, we can join them in their exploration and play, encourage their curiosity, and listen deeply to their questions.
Jeanette Banashak, PHD, EdD.
We are pleased to announce that SGTI and co-founder, Jeanette Banashak, is currently featured in "Voyage Chicago."
You can read the article in its entirety here.
SGTI is pleased to announce a wonderful opportunity for you to learn about what it means to be "interspiritually" present as you companion others.
an interactive, day retreat will be offered by Drs. Jeanette Banashak and Janice Lundy on Saturday, Sept. 15 at Dominican Center in Grand Rapids, MI.
We hope you will join in.
This is the same presentation made by Jeanette and Jan in an all-day institute at the recent Spiritual Directors International Conference in St. Louis in April.
As spiritual companions, how do we sit with others who have different practices and beliefs, yet similar longings for connectedness?
In this full-day seminar on spiritual companionship, we will:
As we discuss the major shifts in this interspiritual age, we will consider how our religious/spiritual identity intersects with our companions.
This program is open to spiritual companions, spiritual directors, chaplains and ministers in healthcare settings, ministry leaders, and related spiritual companionship roles.
Cost: $85; $65 for spiritual directors actively practicing at Dominican Center
(use code "Present" for this price)
Price includes continental breakfast, lunch, and materials.
Participants encouraged to bring a comfortable cushion.
Date: Saturday 09/15/2018
Time: 8:45am - 3:00pm
About this blog
Deepening the understanding, practice and importance of spiritual guidance-companionship across traditions.
Chat with us on Facebook