Thursday, February 23, 2012

Does Religious Education Work?

Does religious education work? asks Professor James Conroy (via Guardian 22 February 2012).
Judith Burns, Teaching of Christianity 'lacks intellectual development' (BBC News 26 Nov 2012)

Andrew Copson, of the British Humanist Association, notes that Christianity is often poorly taught but said the same thing was true of non-religious beliefs such as Humanism.

One answer from systems thinking (for example Stafford Beer's POSIWID principle) is that these systems just do what they do. We may note that there are multiple stakeholders for each of these systems, with overlapping and conflicting purposes.

POSIWID suggests that systems work for themselves. To take another example, @keithlard asks whether prison works.
Obviously prison works just fine for the people who organize prisons. So why would you expect it to work for anyone else?

Coming back to religious education, its possible purposes may include 
  • to indoctrinate schoolchildren into the religious beliefs and practices of a particular religion, and to familiarize them with sacred texts
  • to expose schoolchildren to a broad range of religious beliefs and practices, and to teach them to treat all of them with tolerance and respect
  • to introduce schoolchildren to a range of moral positions and arguments, both religious and secular,

In other words, it could be taught as theology or anthropology or moral philosophy or citizenship.

Updated 22 March 2014

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