“I’m just British – normal British”: Exploring Teachers’ and Pupils’ Conceptualisations of Religion(s) and Religious Belonging

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Abstract

This paper seeks to foreground the voices of primary school teachers and children – often silenced in research – and explore how they understand religion(s) and religious belonging. The findings draw on qualitative data exploring the narratives of teachers and pupils from five primary community schools in the West Midlands (England). The research shows that religious traditions in contemporary Religious Education (RE) classes still tend to be constructed as undiverse, impermeable, monolithic wholes as teachers rely on the dominant World Religions Paradigm. As religions as lived tend to be ignored, children find it difficult to situate themselves within debates and conversations pertaining to religion(s) and religious diversity, and consequently tend to speak about ‘Others’, and an imagined ‘them’. As a result, most children believe that RE is learning about the ‘Other’ and tend to construct ‘world religions’ as un-British. The paper concludes that overall, RE fails to challenge static representations of religion(s) and rigid categorisations, and that the subject ought to offer alternative representations of religious beliefs and practices by foregrounding the lived realities of children and religious communities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Contemporary Religion
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Sep 2019

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