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ERIC Number: EJ820977
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 4
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 11
ISSN: ISSN-0141-6200
An Honest Appraisal of Phenomenological Religious Education and a Final, Honest Reply to Kevin O'Grady
Barnes, L. Philip
British Journal of Religious Education, v31 n1 p69-72 Jan 2009
The importance of the legacy of Ninian Smart is a crucial issue, precisely because, to the author's mind, much of contemporary British religious education has signally failed to face up to the reality of its historical and continuing failure to further and realise liberal educational aims: it congratulates itself on its achievements while resolutely refusing to consider and reflect upon the mounting evidence of underachievement in other important respects. The initial potential of post-confessional religious education to advance the causes of religious toleration, social cohesion and respect for persons was quickly frustrated by misguided attempts to foist on pupils the (originally) Liberal Protestant doctrine that different religions are complementary and independently valid revelations of the divine acting to save humankind. This conviction was a basic axiom of the phenomenology of religion, and through the influence of "Working Paper 36: Religious Education in Secondary Schools" (Schools Council 1971), written under the direction of Smart, became a fundamental tenet of modern British religious education. Positively by extolling the independent truth and virtue of each of the major religions, and negatively by criticising all varieties of religion that refuse to acknowledge the independent validity of other religions, British religious education found a justification and a rationale for its place in the curriculum. The phenomenological approach to religious education fails chiefly on two counts: (1) it does not provide a plausible reading of religion; and (2) its pedagogy has revealed itself to be incapable both of realising liberal educational aims and of relating the subject matter of religion to the moral and spiritual needs of pupils. This summary represents the bare bones of the author's interpretation and critique of Smart and phenomenological religious education that Kevin O'Grady seeks to interrogate and refute. The author finds it disconcerting that O'Grady devotes much of his discussion (in the preceding article) to defending propositions on which they agree, and which mistakenly O'Grady seems to think they disagree. In this article, the author explains how this has come about.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom