In the 1950s, the only religious education provided in the United Kingdom was Christianity (Mitra, 2019). It was taught to inculcate moral values, the importance of civic behaviour and to encourage spirituality in the students. Nowadays, Britain has become more secular, which is primarily due to the increase in migration of foreigners in the country with various cultural and religious backgrounds. This amalgamation of cultural and traditional diversity is called as “traditional plurality” (Edwards, & Hobson, 2019).
Plurality has not only increased due to settlements of foreign people in the country but is also exhibited on social media and with the increasing development of technology and communication, the scope of pluralism has expanded resulting in cross-communication between different nations and communities (Dinham & Shaw, 2017). This has led to the convergence of various thoughts, values and ideologies related to different cultures. This kind of diversity is termed as "modern pluralism". There has been a long discussion for many years for researches and educators to have the subject of religion as a part of the curriculum. If so, it was also difficult to decide the aims and objectives of the subject.
Another challenging question was which religion should be taught. It is a well-known fact that religion helps to associate the identity of a person with one’s cultural as well as national identity, therefore, it is now believed that to have a subject of religion in the UK is imperative for schools to develop no conflict of identity and a secular mindset, which is focused on developing an understanding of various religions and more necessary to emphasize the commonalities in all the religions in theory as well as practicality. The educators must stress upon the fact that all religions are based on the same principles of moral soundness and must be treated with equal respect. The educators play a vital role in reducing racial conflicts right from the start of an individual's education (Arweck, & Jackson, 2016).
It is noted that having the adequate knowledge of the subject helps to reform the ideologies around it. At a certain age, an individual may form an idea related to a particular religion and may imbibe negativity and intolerance towards a religion based on the individual's experiences and the environment in which he or she has grown. Knowledge is the best way to understand the nature of the formation of those ideas and the ideas of the people who are against humanity. Knowing all the religions helps to have tolerance within a community. It teaches an individual to refrain from racism based on the religious background of another.
According to the “Religious education in English schools: Non-statutory guidance 2010 (n.d)”, RE is an important subject and it evokes questions in the individual to think about the meaning and purpose of their lives, it is the base on what the individual must form an idea of the world and make the sense of the world it is surrounded with. It leads to community cohesion and a responsible behaviour. It is regarded as a good practice for schools as it helps the students to be good and to do good. Religious education offers the students have high moral values such as empathy, forgiveness, belief in one another, it helps to maintain healthy relationships within the diverse cultural and traditional mix in the society (Arweck, & Jackson, 2016).
It is the responsibility of the educators that they give equal weightage to all religions while incorporating religious education in the curriculum (Cush, 2019). The main object of RE is not to lead to an opposition between knowledge and the ideology of religion but the common perspectives, approaches and goals to reach out to each other and be helpful and respectful to all human beings.
Arweck, E., & Jackson, R. (Eds.). (2016). Religion, education and society. Singapore. Routledge.
Cush, D. (2019). Barbara Wintersgill’s Big Ideas for Religious Education and the National Entitlement to the Study of Religions and Worldviews in England. Some reflections on a Big Ideas approach to curriculum planning in an English context from a participant in both projects. Nordidactica: Journal of Humanities and Social Science Education, (2019: 4), 95-108.
Dinham, A., & Shaw, M. (2017). Religious Literacy through Religious Education: The Future of Teaching and Learning about Religion and Belief. Religions, 8(7), 119.
Edwards, J., & Hobson, P. R. (2019). Religious education in a pluralist society: The key philosophical issues. Routledge.
Mitra, A. (2019). Interreligious Education in a Post-secular World: The Relevance of the Radhakrishnan Commission’s Recommendations in the Indian Context. In Volume 10: Interreligious Dialogue (pp. 275-291). Brill.
Religious education in English schools: Non-statutory guidance 2010 (n.d). Department for Children, schools and families. Retrieved from https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/190260/DCSF-00114-2010.pdf
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