Teachers' and Parents' Perspectives on a Curricular Subject of "Religion and Spirituality" for Indian Schools: A Pilot Study Toward School Mental Health Program.
Religious-spiritual (R/S) education helps medical students cope with caregiving stress and gain skills in interpersonal empathy needed for clinical care. Such R/S education has been introduced into K-12 and college curricula in some developed nations and has been found to positively impact student's mental health. Such a move has not yet been seen in the Indian education system. This paper aimed to examine perspectives of teachers and parents in India on appropriateness, benefits, and challenges of including R/S education into the school curriculum and also to gather their impressions on how a R/S curriculum might promote students' health. A cross-sectional study of religiously stratified sample of teachers and parents was initiated in three preselected schools in India and the required sample size (N = 300) was reached through snowballing technique. A semi-structured questionnaire, with questions crafted from "Religion and Spirituality in Medicine, Physicians Perspective" (RSMPP) and "American Academy of Religion's (AAR) Guidelines for Religious Literacy," was used to determine participants' perspectives. Findings revealed that teachers' and parents' "comfort in integrating R/S into school curriculum" was associated with their gender (OR 1.68), education status (OR 1.05), and intrinsic religiosity (OR 1.05). Intrinsic religiosity was significantly (p = 0.025) high among parents while "intrinsic spirituality" was high (p = 0.020) among teachers. How participants' R/S characteristics influence their support of R/S education in school is discussed. In conclusion, participants believe R/S education will fosters students' emotional health and interpersonal skills needed for social leadership. A curriculum that incorporates R/S education, which is based on AAR guidelines and clinically validated interpersonal spiritual care tools would be acceptable to both teachers and parents.
Ramakrishnan, P; Baccari, A; Ramachandran, U; Ahmed, SF; Koenig, HG
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