Religious Education's Representation of 'Religions' and 'Cultures'

British Journal of Educational Studies 43 (3):272 - 289 (1995)
Abstract
Multicultural education (of which 'multifaith' RE in England and Wales is sometimes regarded as a subset) was attacked by antiracists in Britain in the 1980s. Although it is arguable that not all of the criticisms were valid, the debate raises questions about the efficacy of religious education in countering racism. The paper argues that a lack of analysis of the concepts 'religions' and 'cultures' in British RE has led to a representation of religious traditions which essentialises them, playing down their internal diversity, and which assumes a 'closed' view of cultures. A more flexible approach is suggested, drawing on work in ethnography and other social science disciplines, which might better combine with antiracist stances than earlier approaches. The work of the Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit is introduced briefly as an example of an attempt to address some of the above issues in terms of an integrated approach to theory, the study of religions in the community and the development of religious education curriculum materials.
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