Navigating the complex world of faith is one of the most important challenges young people face. RE should reflect a globalised world, with a growing diversity of beliefs and practicesby John Hall / September 10, 2018 / Leave a comment
The last time a major step change in Religious Education took place, the world watched in awe at the prospect of a man walking on the moon for the first time, eagerly anticipating the discovery of new forms of life and cultures on a new frontier. Back down on earth, however, minority ethnic communities were fighting for liberties and civil rights, while war raged in Vietnam.
Looking back, it’s easy to wonder whether more effort should have been put into understanding the different outlooks and cultures and promoting harmony among the diverse communities on terra-firma, instead of a search for new ones in outer space.
Since becoming a core part of the British education system in 1870, reasserted in 1944, and the subsequent introduction of other world religions beyond Christianity in the 1960s and 70s, Religious Education in England has evolved significantly. Indeed, the subject bears little resemblance to the one that many people over a certain age will remember from their school days.
Yet Religious Education remains more relevant than ever. Navigating the complex world of religion and belief is one of the most important challenges young people face in the modern world.
Every day they are exposed to the main traditions of faith and belief as well as a wide variety of worldviews through the media, online, and in daily social interactions, whether it’s seeing a woman wearing the hijab, a man in a turban, or getting an invitation to a christening.
Often surrounded by controversy and misinformation, young people have to understand complex issues and make their own decisions on these vital matters.
A subject for the modern world
RE is the school subject that best equips young people for this task. Taught well, it can prepare young people for a globalised world of growing diversity of beliefs and practices.
To do so, however, it has to evolve continually to respond creatively to the changing context of society, the world around us, and the shifting educational landscape.
The Commission on Religious Education has spent the last two years listening to evidence from over 700 concerned parties, including pupils, teachers, lecturers, advisers, parents and faith and belief communities.
Although it received encouraging reports of the excellent work…