2nd Asia-Pacific Educational Integrity Conference
“Valuing” education for future consciousness: The role of connectedness and hope. An empirical study of a cohort of Australian first year psychology students
Barbara Giorgio - Australian Catholic University
Plagiarism is a symptom of a systemic problem inherent in educational institutions which becomes reflected in the behaviour of its population. Rather than a private moral issue, its psycho-social-spiritual roots lie deeply embedded within society’s ascriptions of meaning and valuing processes. Values has become just another catchall bag for institutions wanting to be seen doing the right thing and are being taken at face value, not as “lived experience”. Valuing is a process that issues from innate goodness. It is a guiding principle toward self and other, communal and world advancement. The current obsession with plagiarism highlights confusion about what is being valued and how meaning is being ascribed in the educative enterprise. Plagiarism as a lack of integrity signals a systemic lack of commitment to worthwhile personal, communal and global goals through an abandonment of spiritual self-care, care of other and of the environment, and a lack of responsibility for creating the future. When learning fails to be a spiritual endeavour and to have an altruistic motive, dishonesty accrues no personal moral censure. The problem is created through education’s fostering “the split mind” of the “verbal and unlived” mind of the university pitted against the “lived but typically unverbalised” mind of the individual (Paul, 1990). This conflicting valuing gives rise to public disengagement from the pursuit of a higher consciousness and the abandonment of a moral fixed point. The present study reveals the private valuing that students engage in which remains an untapped resource of enormous creative potential for education.
Using a range of measures and both quantitative and qualitative analyses, a study of 77 predominantly young, female, first year psychology students at a regional Australian University revealed spirituality as relevant to their lives but not as New Age Spirituality or Traditional Christianity. Rather, they identify it in terms of humanistic values and virtues absent of religion, God, atheism or agnosticism. Spiritual values are ascribed naturalistic meanings with the psychological construct of hope rating as the predominant value ahead of a secondary emphasis on the behavioural dimensions of morality and conduct followed by the more collectivist qualities of peace and friendship. Religious affiliation did not influence how spirituality was perceived except for rating higher on forgiveness. Spiritual Transcendence proved to be a more relevant measure of the existential concerns of this cohort especially on the facets of Universality and Connectedness. Expressed beliefs about spirituality correlated with the central features of Spiritual Transcendence concerning unity, connection, meaning and purpose, personal and global responsibility and a sense of goodness. Content analysis of open-ended responses to questions about what gives meaning to their lives revealed a corresponding and overwhelming emphasis on connectedness to significant others (50%), reliance on personal qualities (20%), positive attitudes (13%), and finally spiritual or religious beliefs traditionally defined (10%).
Keywords: valuing, spiritual intelligence, hope, connectedness, transcendence, future consciousness