Balancing Rights in Religious Education through Collaboration and Dialogue

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While the right of parents to educate their children in their religious or philosophical conviction is recognised in Human Rights instruments (e.g. CoE 1952, protocol 1), educators must also attend to the right of a child to autonomy (UN 1989, Article 12.1) and the right of liberal democratic states to reproduce values of equity and freedom. This paper argues that certain forms of inter-religious dialogue and/or inter-religious collaborative learning can assist educators in balancing these rights where religion has significant influence and power over the management of schools and/or the curriculum. It is argued that in addition to the learning benefits which may result, the use of collaboration and dialogue goes some way in addressing three philosophical criticisms of religious education: first that religiously separate and religiously based education pays insufficient attention to the rights of children and, secondly, is likely to contribute to social fragmentation; and third, pupils will lack the skills to overcome prejudice or intolerance where they have no experience of others as a result of separate schooling or from a religiously narrow curriculum, and the latter may in fact support intolerant views. A rationale is developed that asserts the value of collaboration or dialogue as a pedagogical strategy that can, to some degree, mitigate potential negative outcomes from religious education. This argument is further supported with reference to a range of empirical studies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2016
EventInternational Seminar on Religious Education and Values - University of St Mary of the Lake, Chicago, United States
Duration: 31 Jul 201605 Aug 2016


ConferenceInternational Seminar on Religious Education and Values
Abbreviated titleISREV
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • dialogue
  • religious education
  • collaboration
  • liberal
  • communitarian


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