I became interested in the concept of spiritual development in the early 1990s, when spiritual, moral, social and cultural development (SMSC) became a focus for curriculum development and debate in England. Between 1993 and 2002, I convened an annual conference at Roehampton on Education, Spirituality and the Whole Child, which led to the publication of two books:

  • R Best (Ed) [2000]: Education for Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development. London: Continuum.
  • R Best (Ed) [1996]: Education, Spirituality and the Whole Child. London: Cassell.

More recently, I have explored the connection/distinction between spiritual experience and the emotions.

As an extension of this work, I have participated in the debate about the desirability or otherwise of faith schools in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society. I am concerned that faith schools may be a means for indoctrination rather than education, and wonder at the wisdom of successive UK Governments in encouraging the growth of faith schools as a part of the state education system.

I am currently researching the place of the spiritual in the work of Friedrich Froebel, and would be pleased to hear from anyone with an interest in this area.

Selected Publications

Best, R. [2011] Faith or Education? A discussion of some ideas from Faith in Education: A tribute to Terence McLaughlin,  edited by Graham Haydon (2009). [Paper presented to the annual conference of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, New College Oxford]

Best, R. [2011]: ‘Emotion, spiritual experience and education: a reflection’. International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 16(4), 361-368.

Best, R. (2008): ‘In defence of the concept of “spiritual education”. A reply to Roger Marples’. International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 13(4), 320-327.

R Best [2005]: ‘Spiritual Development and Affective Education: an English Perspective’, in S. Karppinen, Y. Katz and S. Neill (Eds): Theory and Practice in Affective Education. Essays in honour of Arja Purula. Helsinki: University of Helsinki. Research Report 258. pp. 65-84.

R Best [Ed][2004]: Pastoral Care in Education, 22(3). (Special issue on Faith, Feeling and Identity).

R Best [2000]: ‘Empathy, Experience and SMSC’, Pastoral Care in Education, 18(4).

For a full list of my publications, see my CV