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Loneliness and Solitude in Education

How to Value Individuality and Create an Enstatic School

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Julian Stern

Analysing loneliness and solitude in schools and exploring how to deal with them is a vital task. In recent research for the author’s Spirit of the School project, a number of pupils, teachers and headteachers described times when they felt lonely and times when they felt the need for healthy solitude. The causes of loneliness are numerous and its consequences have a significant unrecognised impact on education. How do schools deal with people when they are lonely, and how can they overcome loneliness? How can they create opportunities for healthy solitude, a welcome alternative to loneliness? Schools can sometimes try to include people by being intensely social, but end up making them feel even more excluded. A school that teaches solitude well and helps individuals deal with loneliness can be called an ‘enstatic’ school: a school in which people are comfortable within themselves. The objective of this book – the first comprehensive study of the subject – is to help us all understand loneliness and solitude and thereby to reinvigorate debates on personal, character and values education.
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Chapter 9: Religious Traditions of Solitude and Alienation

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CHAPTER 9

Religious Traditions of Solitude and Alienation

it feels like a million people are telling you that you have no friends— ELIZA (aged 12–13)

Introduction: Perhaps He Does Not Know

Religions are often portrayed as rule-governed bounded belief-systems, full of apparent certainties. Although there are many religious followers and opponents who would like to think of religions in this way, it is far from a universal view even in sacred scriptures. One of the most venerable creation narratives, from the ancient Hindu Rig-Veda, ends in this way:

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