Unseen worlds: the spiritual spaces of childhood

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Child with pink and black wisps

Inaugural lecture from Kate Adams, Professor of Education and Childhood


Tuesday 12 February 2019

6pm light refreshments in Senior Common Room (SCR)

6.30pm lecture in the Chapel

The SCR and the Chapel are close to each other and are both on the King Alfred Quarter, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester SO22 4NR


The spiritual worlds of childhood often pass by unnoticed. When adults are aware of them, they often frame them as make-believe or figments of the imagination. Yet in these spaces, children contemplate profound questions as they seek, and find, meaning and purpose in life.

This lecture invites you to accompany children on their journeys through these worlds - worlds which often transcend boundaries between the religious and the secular. We learn how their nightly dreams and occasional moments in everyday waking life draw them into spaces where they can encounter God, angels, ‘imaginary companions’ and deceased loved ones; and where they ask those ‘ultimate’ questions about life and death which continue to perplex the human race. The children’s narratives are considered through different disciplinary perspectives but are essentially revealed through their eyes, inviting you to immerse yourself in their worlds.

As children also express disappointment in adults’ responses to their spiritual lives, we consider the potential for adults in general, and primary schools in particular, to create safe spaces for them. The lecture concludes by reflecting on the potential for schools to nurture children’s spirituality through both Religious Education and the wider curriculum. Similarly, it encourages all adults to recognise and value children’s wisdom, enabling them to flourish on their pathway through life.


Kate Adams is Professor of Education and Childhood and Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Winchester. Kate worked in academic publishing and as a primary teacher before commencing her career in Higher Education. She has spent two decades researching, publishing and presenting her work globally and has held executive positions on the International Association for Children’s Spirituality and the International Association for the Study of Dreams.


Free to attend but booking is essential.


Parking is available in the Dytche car park.  If you are being dropped off at the main reception, the SCR and the Chapel are a short level walk away. 


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