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Learning from what? A question of subject focus in religious education in England and Wales

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The terms learning about and learning from religion have now become firmly established in the lexicon of religious education (RE). The publication of a national Non‐statutory Framework for RE in October 2004 gave them official status. But what is actually meant by these terms? Certainly teachers have been less confident when attempting to put learning from religion into practice. This article takes the view that a clear articulation of what and how pupils should learn from religion depends on being clear about what it is they should learn about religion in the first place. It goes on to argue that what pupils learn about religion is often not reflective of anything distinctive that distinguishes religious education from other humanities subjects. This is due to the dominance of a naturalistic understanding of religion in religious education, based on disciplines such as sociology and anthropology. This article seeks to redress the balance by attempting to outline a second order interpretative framework that is more truly reflective of religious life than the naturalistic disciplines yet less narrow than a tradition bound theological framework. The latter part of the article offers an example of how this might be reflected in taking pupils to visit various places of worship.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Birmingham, UK

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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