If people default to giving their children whatever education system they themselves grew up with, then the trend is even more pronounced in spiritual education. We want our children to believe what we believe, and to value what we value . . . regardless of whether those values have really panned out for us. I was always puzzled by the term "faith of our fathers," as if the fact that our ancestors believed it should have any significance for what I believe. It doesn't make logical sense, but it does make psychological sense. Our parents are the template from which we build our model of the world and our model of human relationships. If it was good enough for Mom and Dad, and good enough for me, then by God it's gonna be good enough for Junior.
I think we are susceptible to the same errors the Spanish parents are making about their kids education, in the spiritual realm. We take the kids to church, figuring that we want to give them some kind of baseline experience for spiritual life, but in fact our models for what makes a good spiritual education are completely lacking. Maybe they get what we got – catechism, a sense of reverence and community, a bunch of stories that are both wondrous and confusing – but is that what they really need? It might be the spiritual equivalent of the Spanish kids memorizing 18th century poems – it might look like they're learning something, but it's not what they really need.
Unfortunately, I am perpetually perplexed when it comes to the spiritual education of my children. I do not really regret having a "churched" upbringing, and yet I spent years and years unraveling the confusion and anxiety brought on by my early church experiences. The only thing I can thank the church for is giving me an unsolvable koan to chew on throughout my adolescence: how can people say this is the most important thing in the universe, and yet live the way that they live? How can so much of this stuff intuitively feel correct, and yet logically make no sense at all? Maybe that was all an important part of my spiritual development . . . and then again, maybe it was so much noise. Do I really want to baptize my children into this confusion?
The primary reason my kids are in a Waldorf school (aside from an excellent education) is that the Waldorf teachers seemed to have a pretty good notion of how to nurture the spiritual capacities of children without getting into the thorny issues of theology. I figured that bought me a few years to continue working out this question: what can we give our children to aid their spiritual development? Right now, my answer to that question is not that different from run-of-the-mill parenting advice: keep them out of trouble, keep them basically sane and sociable, and trust they will be able to find their own way.
My philosophy--which I think I picked up from the Waldorf folks, although I don't remember them saying it explicitly--is that the most important thing you can do for a child, to help him grow to be a spiritual seeker in later life, is to instill in him a sense of wonder. He should walk through the woods and say "Wow, look at all these beautiful plants!" He should see a sunrise as an overwhelming marvel. The more awe and wonder he brings to his day-to-day life, the more spiritual he's likely to turn out to be.
Of course I cannot defend that belief at all, it just feels right. Just as importantly, I cannot claim to have done at all a good job of it.