Philosophy – the benign tumour in the body of Religious Education

Robinson, L. (2019) Philosophy – the benign tumour in the body of Religious Education. AULRE Annual Conference 2019, Birmingham, UK, 9-10 May 2019.

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The drastic shifts in the nature and delivery of RE in all kinds of schools in Scotland mapped out in the changes to the curriculum, from before 5-14 - particularly following the Millar Report (1972), to the Curriculum for Excellence (2004ff) and is evident in the descriptive and analytical literature produced in recent years (including Harlen (1996), Whatley (2008) Conroy et al (2013), Nixon (2008)) There has been a significant growth in the “philosophication” of RE in Scotland as outlined by Graeme Nixon in a number of articles (2009, 2012), a move that is actively supported by some within the profession and by hostile critics of religion. (see also Nixon, G. (2008) From RE to RMPS: The case for the Philosophication of Religious Education in Scotland. Edinburgh. Edinburgh University Press. ) This paper argues that the growth of philosophy within Religious Education is comparable to the growth of a benign tumour in a healthy person. These growths may not be as “benign” as their name suggests. (Ref ) The work of Humanist, secular and “skeptical” organisations is critically explored, and their regular claims not to be hostile to religion (from numerous sources including Humanists UK, National Secular Society, Skeptic societies) are examined. The nature and purpose of Religious Education is under threat, not only from external hostile critics, but from within (the “benign tumour” of philosophy). The insights which might be gleaned from the different theoretical perspectives on the RE curriculum in Scotland point clearly to a crisis of identity and purpose, in which the core value of RE is in danger of being subsumed into a “skills” agenda. At worst, the skills agenda is a mask for a militantly anti-religious evangelical humanist crusade.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Keywords:Religious education, philosophy
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Robinson, Mr Leon
Authors: Robinson, L.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Creativity Culture and Faith
College of Social Sciences > School of Education > Pedagogy, Praxis & Faith
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Author
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the publisher
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