Uniformity and diversity in religious education in Northern Ireland

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    12 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper considers the tension that can exist in the aims of religious education between the desire to encourage open-minded, critical thinking through exposure to diverse traditions, ideas and cultures and the encouragement, overt or otherwise, into uniformity whereby learners take on the values of a particular tradition, culture or ideology (say of a religion, family or school). The particular situation of teaching religious education to post-primary school pupils in Northern Ireland is considered, and evidence cited to suggest that the Northern Ireland Core Syllabus in Religious Education has tried to impose a particular non-denominational Christian uniformity on pupils and teachers through its use of religious language. This has contributed to a culture of 'avoidance' in relation to the teaching of broad Christian diversity. The article concludes that there is a need for an ongoing and meaningful dialogue to discover what kind of balance between uniformity and diversity is best in teaching religious education in Northern Ireland, and notes that this also requires the reassessment of fundamental issues such as the aims of education and the relationship between secular and religious values in publicly funded schools.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)249-258
    Number of pages10
    JournalBritish Journal of Religious Education
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2004


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