Should religion be concerned with morality

Spirituality and Morality in Teachers' Practice


GERONE, Lucas Guilherme Teztlaff de [1], BATAGLIA, Patricia Unger Raphael [2]

GERONE, Lucas Guilherme Teztlaff de. BATAGLIA, Patricia Unger Raphael. Spirituality and Morality in Teachers' Practice. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Volume 05, Ed. 09, Vol. 01, pp. 108-120. September 2020. ISSN: 2448-0959, access link:



Context: Scientific research on moral development in education has gained space in debates and academic research. However, there are few studies that address spirituality as a dimension of moral development, particularly in the field of education. Objectives: This study looks at spirituality in moral development, particularly in the practice of teachers. The theoretical foundation will be based on Piaget, Kohlberg and Fowler for moral, religious and belief development. Results: 1) There is an etymological relationship between spirituality, moral development and the teacher. 2) There is a historical relationship between spirituality, religion, morality and education. A relationship is perceived between the teacher's spirituality, morality and practice in the search for an integral and humane education. Moral and spiritual questions are indispensable. in understanding human rights and values; as a resource (coping) for the teacher to find professional and personal meaning and purpose; In religious education there are human values ​​with moral implications such as respect, brotherhood, solidarity and wellbeing. Considerations: The contribution of educational psychology to the reflection of spirituality, morality and teachers, as in etymological meanings in the search for knowledge and meaning of life; as a spiritual one coping-Resource in the educational context. Further research is needed to analyze the influence of spirituality and religion on moral development in classroom practice, such as: B. moral competence, continuous training methods, the practice of moral and religious instruction and the construction of moral virtues.

Keywords: moral development, education, spirituality, teaching.


Using Kohlberg's theory (1981) of moral and religious development, Fowler (1992), inspired by Piaget (1973), developed studies of belief as a dimension constructed chronologically with the experiences of life. For Kohlberg (1981) and Fowler (1992), moral and religious development are different, but they are linked in the search for meaning and existential values ​​built in educational settings: family, religious community, and school community. In this sense, educational environments have the main purpose of constructing the whole between the dimensions of faith, an aspect of existential importance, with the educational dimensions: culture and moral values ​​acquired in socialization.

It is understood that teaching is an art of living, the educator is one who builds a dialogue between the moral issues of society and the values ​​of the learner: his purpose, his psycho-emotional and spiritual needs. In this context, this work seeks to understand the relationship between moral and spiritual issues and the influence of this relationship on education, especially in the practice of teachers.

This study is structured as follows: 1) An overview of the etymological views of the study. Knowing the terminology is a fundamental starting point. The concept of spirituality, morality and teacher development will be coined. 2) A theoretical and practical historical overview of the relationship between spirituality-religiosity, morality and upbringing. The knowledge of the socio-historical reality enables a systematic analysis of the subject of the study and the support of the discussion of the subject. 3) Kohlberg and Fowler theories are used in moral, religious development and education. With these authors, academic support with sound arguments is guaranteed to discuss the topic raised here. 4) Finally, the considerations point to the results and the inadequacies of this study.


In the first, spirituality is an idea that relates to the state of the nature of the mind, something that is integrated into the human being. That is, one quality and one mind exercise. According to Waldir Souza (2013, p. 97) it is “a human condition from which one cannot escape”. It is added: Spirituality is a dynamic existential dimension of experiences that is cultivated in the spirit, which brings the conscious person into his vital decisions and forms his (self) knowledge about himself and the world: his moral values, friendship, connection , Solidarity, humanism and sensual and purposeful life, transcendence that may (or may not) be related to religion, understood here from its Latin etymology, religiouswhich means “reconnection”, connection between man and God (DERRIDA, 2000).

In the academic and popular world there is a comparison between religiosity and spirituality. According to Koenig (2012), most research on religiosity uses the term spirituality in the title or in the discussion of the results. So in these studies religiosity and spirituality appear together. However, even if this association is so, religiosity and spirituality cannot be viewed as similar. For Koenig (2012), Religiosity comes from religion: a system of beliefs and practices observed by a group of people who rely on rituals or a set of scriptures and teachings that recognize the sacred, the divine, God , idolize, communicate with or approach him.


Development is understood as an action of growth or progress, as the growth of individual psychological, moral and intellectual properties. The meaning of morality comes from the Latinen mos - moriswhat habit means. Morality: the rules of conduct, within the human mind, prescriptions established and permitted by a society that regulates the behavior of those who are part of it (AULETE, 1980).

Moral development is linked to human development, moral questions can be found in all civilizations. For Vázquez (1987) morality is a set of norms and rules that are worked out and accepted by a civilization in which norms of social relationships, behavior and governance are regulated. The moral of Vázquez arises from the agreement of the individual to ensure behavior of each individual within the collective (VÁZQUEZ, 1987).

Morality from the perspective of spirituality resides in the awareness of the spirit and in the virtues. According to Comte-Sponville (1999), virtue is a human tendency to do good, a spirit in truth relating to moral thoughts and actions. Comte-Sponville (1999) adds that virtue is an applied and living morality that transcends the Is of the generic. For Comte-Sponville (1999) there are virtues associated with spirit and reason, such as justice [3].

In religion, the concept of morality is associated with religious talent, which is developed and understood at the levels of religious maturity. This means that the more religious teaching and teaching continues, the greater the moral and social development (AMATUZZI, 2000). It is common to find civilizations that have evolved socially influenced by religious doctrines that have regulated the norms of moral control, for example, in a Judeo-Christian civilization, it is a crime to kill, steal, or commit that harm the integrity of the collective, that is, it is not legal and moral (Exodus 20, 1-17).

In psychology there are interpretations of the concept of morality and its development: a) within the behavioral understanding, the concept of morality is formed by the external aspects of the genetic and constituted in what is good for society, what enables survival, and what is good for the organism is what well-being develops, and what is good for culture is what solves problems (ZILIO; CARRARA, 2009). b) in Bandura's cognitive conception, the concept of morality is seen in social behavior, development occurs in observation and imitation. c) For Freud, morality is related to the ideals that make up the ego, which is the representation and knowledge of man, while it relates to desire, guilt and feelings of duty as motivators of moral action (GOLDEMBERG, 1994). d) For the constructivist psychologists Piaget and Kohlberg, one is considered an author of moral development if one judges incorrectly or correctly.


The etymology derives from Latin docere ab, which means that the term “teaching” is related to who teaches, teaches and teaches classes, or who builds values, norms or rules. The term teacher varies according to the historical social context. For example, a teacher can be one who teaches religious norms and regulations (ROLDÃO, 2007). For Paulo Freire (2005), classroom practice must necessarily look at people's experiences, their values ​​and morals, value friendship and connection, solidarity, and promote the meaning and purpose of life.

For Libâneo (2008, p. 47), “teaching is a“ fundamentally social activity because it contributes to the cultural and scientific education of people ”. Fischer (2009, p. 94) describes that the teaching is a space of “experimentation, the transformation of one's own mind, genealogical practice”. In space the questions arise, “In what way we do this and not this way; how we accepted this and not that; in what way they refused to be this or that as teachers. " That is, a moral and ethical development of oney that is changing, acceptance of diversity and information that circulates in society.


In all developments of mankind religion and education were linked, for example, in the former European civilizations it is customary to find a religious leader (shaman or shaman) who occupies a role of educator, the moral norms that govern the collective and personal behavior of the individual regulated (BOTSARIS, 2011).

The Middle Ages are the period with the greatest relationship between religion, education and morality. It underlines the theocratic authority of the Roman Catholic Church, which had political, educational and social power and imposed religious dogmas on the moral orders of society, for example what is right to God and what is wrong is against God's standards. In order to maintain the moral and religious order in society, priests or members of the church were politicians, educators or rulers. It was only at the end of the Middle Ages that the church's power in political and social issues in society declined, as did the decreasing religious imposition of moral issues.

At the beginning of modernity, democratic society replaced theocracy. According to Kant (1793), it is the separation between church and society that builds up a moral conscience in people without religious impositions. However, religion has not failed to influence human moral problems. In his conscience he chooses to follow and uphold religious beliefs. They can (i) explain moral problems such as injustice, suffering and limitations of life and human imperfections. In this context, religion is involved in the moral construction of the person. In their religious beliefs it is possible to find full conscience, justice, joy and the infinity of perfection in God. In Kohlberg's (1981) understanding of human consciousness there is a cosmic one order[4] without imperfection, injustice and error that can be related to religious belief.

For Kohlberg (1981) morality is an independent domain of the religious dimension, the subject can (or must not) judge his moral actions by religious belief, but in life there are questions that overlap moral scope and are explained by religious dimensions, such as " Why do good things? ”. That is, it is not just a matter of complying with the rules and norms of social well-being, but also of thinking about a real motive, purpose, and moral purpose. Hence, in the stages of moral development, Kohlberg established the seventh stage that religious explanations would have in moral development.

Currently to Kadooka; Lepre and Evangelista (2015) there is a moral crisis, a lack of human values ​​in political, social and educational settings. In this scenario, religious belief was a moral regulator to deal with the crisis, as in the context of education, teachers use religious / spiritual coping[5] to deal with situations of crisis, stress and suffering in school or personal surroundings. Teachers have also used the religious and spiritual dimension as a means of finding meaning and purpose in the search: personal value creation, well-being and a more humanized and integral pedagogical practice (ESPÍRITO SANTO, 2008).


Brazil has European heritage, due to the process of colonization, inherited the Judeo-Christian tradition. At the height of colonization, religious orders like the Jesuits practiced actions aimed at education in order to open up educational institutions. The relationship between education and religion can be historically divided: between 1500 and 1800, teaching with the intention of evangelizing blacks and pagans was proselytized, along with the religious message, teaching focused on reflections on moral values ​​related to community and politics was. Between 1500 and 1800, religious people played an important socio-educational role in Brazil because education was elitist, on the one hand the nobles had easy access to schools, on the other hand the poor classes as slaves and indigenous peoples had no access to education. During this time, the philanthropic beings of the religious majority emerged who promoted social and educational aid for the poor class. Father Manuel da Nóbrega of the Society of Jesus stands out, who founded the first “school of reading and writing” in August 1549 in Bahia. Nóbrega's vision was to train citizens with a sense of moral, social and religious duties (MATTOS, 1958).

Between 1800 and 1964, the management of educational institutions becomes the responsibility of the state, this happens due to the inauguration of the republic, in it the state becomes secular, from which it will be the responsibility of the state to effectively promote education without religious proselytism (CURY , 2002). The new republic formed a public network of educational services without religious proselytization (JUNQUEIRA, 2007). But even with the official separation between church and state, religious questions continued in the field of education.

A major milestone came in 1930 with the creation of the Ministry of Education, which, although secular, was inspired by free education promoted by religious entities. In 1931, the Minister of Education, Francisco Campo, introduced religious education in schools as part of the philosophical and moral structure. Another milestone is the introduction of religious education in the first LDBEN Basic Law of National Education in 1961 with Law 4.024 (JUNQUEIRA, 2007). According to another version in 1971, the ideological structure of the LDB was tied to the thoughts and positions of the social, political and religious classes. Note that at least two groups, statisticians and liberals, between the agendas discussed the role of the state, the family, and moral issues that were most often intertwined with religious values.Later on, religious instruction [6] was introduced as an optional discipline in the LDB in 1996.

In the Base Nacional Comum Curricular (BNCC) developed in 2015, we regulate the essential findings that should be worked on in education in order to promote equality, holistic training and a democratic and integrative society. In the BNCC, religious education is made up of topics with reflections that deal with spirituality and morality, such as identities and otherness: “The i, the other and the we”. Knowledge and thinking about beliefs and peculiarities related to the philosophy of life: representations and religious behavior, way of life, feelings and memories and knowledge.

In the 1970s and 1980s in education, Paulo Freire, who had a holistic view of education, addressed Freire on ethics-morality, spirituality as forms of freedom from the oppression of the system (FREIRE, 2005).

According to IBGE data for the 2010 religious census, they reveal that 86.8% of the Brazilian population consists of Catholic and Protestant Christians (AZEVEDO, 2012). For Moreira-Almeida (2010) religion is a social factor as it is persecuted by most parts of society and influences politics, culture and education.


With Piaget's constructivist vision and Kohlberg's cognitive-structural vision, the person is the author of moral construction through the judgment of right and wrong (LOURENÇO, 1992). In the context of morality and religion, Kohlberg (1981) distinguished religious and moral thinking, but associates them in the stages of development. For Kohlberg (1981) there are questions in moral development that are answered by religious dimensions. How, why be moral? Is it good or bad The answer lies in adhering to norms as a social balance, but it also involves an individual reflection of the meaning and purpose of being, this reflection is cultivated in the nature of the mind and can be answered through religious dimensions: God is good and wants that man is good: “All good gifts and perfect gifts come from above, descending from above from the Father of Lights, in whom there is no change or shadow of variation. According to his will, by the word of truth, he sent us to be like thieves of his creatures ”(James 1: 16-18). He understands in the Bible passage that goodness comes from God, He created man to be good. In this example, you can see how religious dimensions can answer the question of morality.

The religious dimensions as a moral aspect that makes sense approaches James Fowler [7] (1981), who was influenced by Piaget (1973), developed the levels of belief that occur chronologically, “At birth we are innate endowed with faith ”, whereby the life path as a whole develops with educational environments: parents, family members, the religious community (FOWLER, 1992). In this sense, in their purpose of constructing fully between the dimensions of belief, educational environments have “a general aspect of the human struggle to find and maintain a meaning in life” (FOWLER, 1981), with the educational dimensions of life: immediate knowledge, socialization, culture and moral values. In this context, the teaching for Espírito Santo (2008) is an art of living, the educator is the one who builds the dialogue between the moral issues of society with the values ​​of the learner: his meanings and purposes, his psycho-emotional needs, longings and others .


In etymological reflections on spirituality, moral development and teachers find relationships and similarities in meanings, such as meaning is a dimension that form the concept of spirituality, morality and teacher practice. In this context, The Psychology of Education can lead to etymological reflections on the meaning-purpose as part of the nature of mind (pisque) bcontributions that include moral behavior, knowledge of the one and the world (SANTOS, 2019).

The story points to a connection between moral and religious questions in the educational context, especially in Brazil there is an influence of the Christian-Jewish tradition in the educational context. For the educational psychologist La Taille (2009), appreciating the Christian-Jewish tradition is not about promoting religious proselytism in education, as was the case before the secular state. It is also not a catechism in teaching, but it is understood that the practice of education is not built in a futuristic perspective, it teaches what already exists in relation to the past, therefore it is educated through cultural foundations and history. This enables the knowledge of one, in turn, contributes to a meaning in life.

According to Kohlberg, moral and religious development are linked to the search for existential answers, for example in the meaning and purpose of life. For Fowler, the stages of belief (understood as spirituality) are a resource for finding meaning and experiences in life built throughout life with educational settings, family, school, and society.

As shown in this study, most of today's population is religious (84% Christian). According to La Taille (2009), a survey by Ministério da Ciência e Tecnologia e pela Academia Brasileira de Ciências found that 49% of people are more interested in knowledge about religion. In this regard, consideration is given to the influence of religion on the construction of knowledge expressed in the educational context. This does not mean that one has to have a denominational or proselytizing religious educational practice, but a secular teaching in its full sense, respect, guarantee and guarantee the freedom of all religious beliefs. In this context, religious education as a discipline should not be a means of catechism, but an investigation of the religious phenomenon, freedom and diversity of belief, religious history and culture, civic education in universal moral values, peace, solidarity, love, tolerance, Cooperation, honesty, respect and justice (BOEING, 2009). In this sense, the educator's practice aims at human development, love, cooperation, freedom, equality with the singularity, the integration of the physical, relational, sociocultural and belief axes.

Spirituality is a resource (coping) for the teacher to find professional and personal meaning and purpose. According to Takiuti (1997), the educational context can be stressful, negatively affecting emotional, cognitive, and behavioral states, leading to insecurity, inability, inferiority, and other negative feelings. For Takiuti (1997) offers spiritual coping in the educational context resilience, courage and self-esteem, which has a positive effect on learning.

Finally, it is important to develop new research: the influence of religious belief on the moral competence of teachers; Methods of continuous training of teachers who consider moral and spiritual issues; Studies on conflicts between moral and religious issues in an educational context, e.g. B. Gender ideologies and religious beliefs.


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3. For Comte-Sponville (1999), as Piaget (1994) believes, the concept of justice is the most rational moral concept because it is analyzed psychologically and leads to collaboration. Justice is understood as an ideal of values ​​or what is just.

4. If we understand the cosmic order: We must feel that we are charged with the same energy from which the earth, stars and galaxies arose. the same energy brought forth all life forms and the reflex consciousness of man; it inspires poets, thinkers, and artists of all time; We are immersed in an ocean of energy that we cannot understand. But this energy is ultimately ours not through domination, but through invocation (BOFF, 2010).

5. Copingappeared in psychology, a word from English that has no literal translation into Portuguese, which can mean "dealing with", "dealing", "face" or "adapting to". It is a behavioral and cognitive resource (PANZINI, 2004, p. 20).

6. Knowledge of the religious phenomenon developed by the religious studies and systematized by the basic education curriculum is part of the cultural structure of society. Reshaping the various dimensions of human life with the mind. And religious education as part of civic education not only becomes a space for re-reading and refreshing the religious phenomenon, but also for respecting the plurality of every socio-cultural context (BOEING, 2009, pp. 10-11).

7. James W. Fowler is a theologian, psychologist, professor of religion and human development. His book should be highlighted Estágios da Fé (1981), in which he deals with the development of faith and religion. The six stages from which belief develops: (1) undifferentiated belief, (2) intuitive projective belief, (3) mythical literal belief, (4) individual reflective belief, (5) conjunctive belief, and (6) universalizing belief.

For Fowler that is Believe a general aspect of human struggle to find and maintain meaning and that it may or may not be expressed through religion “(P.83). According to Fowler, it is part of human nature to seek meaning, and it is linked to belief that may or may not lead to religious practices. You can understand that Fowler separates belief and religion. Belief is a "Secret that surrounds us”(P.39), in other words a“transcendent reality”(P.168) one can understand faith as spirituality

[1] Master in Theology from PUC / PR. He specializes in organizational behavior; Specialization in neuropsychopedagogy; Specialization in philosophy and sociology; Specialization in teaching higher education. MBAs in Administration and Management with a focus on corporate spirituality and religiosity. Study of commercial administration. Bachelor of Theology. He has a degree in philosophy and a degree in education.

[2] PhD in Social Psychology. Master in Social Psychology. Degree in psychology.

Submitted: August 2020.

Approved: September 2020.

Master in Theology from PUC / PR. Specialization in organizational behavior; Specialization in neuropsychopedagogy; Specialization in philosophy and sociology; Specialization in university teaching. MBAs in Administration and Management with a focus on corporate spirituality and religiosity. Degree in commercial management. Bachelor of Theology.He has a degree in philosophy and a degree in education.