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

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Abstract

This article 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 investigating 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 classes still tend to be constructed as un-diverse, 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 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 article 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
Early online date8 Sep 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Sep 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Keywords

  • (mis)representation of religious traditions
  • Boundary drawing
  • Religious Education
  • primary education
  • religious belonging

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