Education, Religion and Diversity: Developing a new model of religious education

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1st Edition

They can then choose to study 1 or both of those religions in more depth in 1 or 2 of the following ways: through studying their practices, ways of life and forms of expression in detail through a thorough study of religious texts by studying how the teachings of 1 or both religions inform their thinking on philosophical or ethical issues Building on personal discussions with a range of religious leaders and organisations, Secretary of State for Education Nicky Morgan said the new content would allow pupils to develop a broad understanding of religion.

Hamid Patel, Chief Executive at Tauheedul Education, a leading sponsor of academies, said: The best schools, including faith schools like ours, already teach religious education in a broad and respectful way. Aliya Azam, Education and Interfaith Co-ordinator at the Al Khoei Foundation, said: The Al Khoei Foundation welcomes the new criteria for religious studies and values the efforts of the Department for Education and the Religious Education Council of England and Wales for emphasising the importance of inclusion of the diverse traditions within each faith in the religious education curriculum.

Joyce Miller, Chair of the Religious Education Council, said: The Religious Education Council was delighted to be asked to take a leading role in the creation of the new exam criteria for religious studies, and that many of its member bodies were involved in the process. Laura Marks, Senior Vice President of The Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: It is essential that our faith schools turn out children who not only understand their own customs and beliefs but who are open to other people, able to thrive in the wider world and are prepared to contribute to Britain at large.

Ofqual, the independent regulator of qualifications and examinations for England, will consult on the proposed assessment objectives for this subject: Religious studies GCSEs, AS and A levels: new qualifications for In April , the government announced that GCSEs and A levels in religious studies, design and technology, drama, dance, music and physical education - and GCSEs in art and design, computer science and citizenship - would be reformed for first teaching in September DfE has already consulted on proposed subject content for art and design, computer science, dance, music and physical education, and is currently consulting on proposed subject content for drama, design and technology and cooking and nutrition.

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DfE enquiries Central newsdesk General enquiries Share this page Share on Facebook Share on Twitter. Is this page useful? Maybe Yes this page is useful No this page is not useful Is there anything wrong with this page? Thank you for your feedback. What were you doing? Most state standards incorporate religion in primary-level studies of communities, in elementary and secondary U.

The standards commonly specify that students should know about the role of religion in U.

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Civics standards often include religious influences in law and civic values, highlighting the role of religious freedoms. The study results demonstrate that a national consensus has emerged on how schools can teach about religions in constitutionally appropriate ways.

Religious Education

Collectively, the seven major national social studies standards and curriculum models developed by such national curriculum organizations as the National Council for History Education, the National Council for the Social Studies, and the National Council on Economic Education and the state standards mandate learning about the origins, basic beliefs, and practices of each faith and the historical context in which it arose, spread, and flourished.

The standards also emphasize the ideas, institutions, and traditions of religious thought that grew out of each faith and the societies that each faith influenced.

Although some state standards mention only one time period early in the history of the faith group, many states cite the role of religion and its changing impact on society through the contemporary era. Individual state requirements include many creative and challenging items, such as mandates to study the theological and philosophical ideas of religious movements; to learn how religions have affected economic, environmental, and technological decisions; and to understand the role religions have played in the history of science and the arts.

In its standards for teaching about religion, the U. One of the most profound sources of unrest in the world is the failure of education systems in many countries to bypass narrow ethnic and national interests and teach about differing belief systems and shared common values. In contrast, the U. Going beyond wary, silent tolerance, the guidelines and mandates in current state and national standards allow parents to send children into classrooms where they learn about their own faiths and those of their fellow citizens in an academically and constitutionally sound framework.

Although teaching about religion is required in nearly every state, this does not ensure that it will be well taught. An effective curricular vehicle must carry the content. The experiences of Council on Islamic Education reviewers in teacher training, textbook review, and standards development have exposed us to several faulty models for teaching about religion that fall short of the guidelines. The most common faulty approach is to provide a thumbnail sketch of each world faith that creates more stereotypes than useful understandings.

Another flawed method limits historical coverage to a period thousands of years ago, leaving the impression that religions are quaint artifacts of bygone eras. For example, many state mandates end their coverage of Hinduism with ancient India, Buddhism with Asoka, and Judaism with the time of Jesus. Such inadequate teaching about religion may encourage students to apply rudimentary knowledge of others' beliefs to understanding contemporary non-Western societies.

If students haven't learned about change in religious thought and practice over time, they may imagine that nothing in other cultures has changed for centuries and assume that they can apply the ancient or medieval stencil to understanding complex contemporary societies.

This faulty approach would fail to help them understand the student sitting at the next desk, the neighbor, the future colleague, or the world at large. Distorted learning can also result from inadequate focus on religious institutions. As an example, some institutions from Islamic tradition recently in the news are the madrassa and the ulama religious schools and scholars , but they have been covered in such a simplistic way that they are becoming mere caricatures.

The result can be paradoxical.

1st Edition

Shorn of their historical and cultural context, two proud symbols of learning—the madrassa , which gave birth to colleges and universities, and the ulama , a class of Muslim scholars that brought forth such universal geniuses as philosophers and physicians Avecinna and Averroes—have become confused in the public mind with symbols of ignorance.

How then can schools teach about religion in ways that achieve the aims of the state and national standards? Guidelines developed by the First Amendment Center, the product of several decades of development and dissemination, prescribe a neutral tone that leaves choices about belief to the student and the family.

Teaching about religion should neither promote nor denigrate the ideals of any faith.

Why religious education has an important role to play in our society

Effective practice in teaching about religion, according to the guidelines, depends on presenting religious figures objectively and authentically in the context of the sacred narratives told through the ages. Students learn, for example, not only that Moses and Abraham were leaders, but also that people believe that God gave these leaders wisdom. They learn that Jesus's followers called him Christ, and that to his followers Muhammad was not just an Arab merchant but a great prophet. Effective practice in teaching about religion includes use of accurate terminology from within each faith, and presents its beliefs and rituals as expressions of the value system of the faith and its cultural institutions.

The five pillars of Islam, for example, can be viewed as mere rituals, but in fact they are acts of worship with many dimensions. Teaching about the spiritual and worldly, individual and communal dimensions is a key to appreciating both unity and diversity in Muslim societies over the 14 centuries of its history. The emerging consensus on teaching about religion creates a new opportunity to transcend the trivial and exotic in favor of meaningful understandings and universal principles. For example, the curriculum might compare institutions of learning and the scholars who devoted their lives to them, revealing that the spiritual impulse to acquire knowledge is universal in all religions and cultures and showing how interactions among people of different faiths have ensured that accumulated human knowledge is passed on to subsequent generations.

The spread of Buddhism across Central Asia, the spread of Christianity into Europe, and the spread of Islam in Southwest Asia and beyond have all contributed to preserving learning. In the space and time available, religion, like other aspects of human formation, such as race, class, and gender, must be addressed critically and creatively as part of the social fabric of South Africa that every child should learn about. On the other hand, religious educators arguing against the viability of educational initiatives in teaching and learning about religion, religions, and religious diversity must come to terms with the modest goals of Religion Education.

No child, many of these religious educators have argued, should be exposed to other religions until their own religious identity has been formed. In other words, he insisted that learners within his jurisdiction should be prevented from achieving the minimal expectations of the curriculum during these years that would enable them to identify and name symbols linked to their own religion, describe important days from diverse religions, and discuss diet, clothing, and decorations, significant places and buildings, festivals and customs, and the dignity of the person in a variety of religions in South Africa.

These struggles continue.

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Sufficient progress has been made, however, in policy, curriculum, and materials development to support education about religion that is consistent with South African constitutional values and international initiatives in human rights such as the Madrid Document of With respect to religion and belief, these principles have been established in South African educational policy and national curriculum. Even within the small compass allowed by the curriculum for this enterprise, enormous gains can be anticipated in advancing education in human rights, citizenship, social justice, and diversity by paying attention to religion and religions, not as a religious activity, but as an educational priority in teaching and learning about our world.

African Christian Democratic Party. Amin, M. Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman. Amor, Abdelfattah. Asmal, Kader, and Linda Chisholm. Beka, A. Old World History and Geography. Pensacola, Fl. Beka Books. Chidester, David. Englewood Cliffs, N. Rashied Omar. Christian Centre.

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Views on the Draft Curriculum Statements. Department of Didactics. Biblical Instruction HED. Pretoria: Unisa. Department of Education. Pretoria: Department of Education. Pretoria: Department of Education, De Villiers, Pieter. Faller, Paul. Madrid: Ministry of Justice. Kitshoff, M.


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Barnes, “Education, Religion and Diversity: Developing a New Model of Religious Education”

Cape Town: Maskew Miller Longman orig. Kwenda, Chirevo. African Religion and Culture Alive. Cape Town: Via Afrika.