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Teaching Religion, Teaching Truth

Theoretical and Empirical Perspectives


Edited By Jeff Astley, Leslie J. Francis, Mandy Robbins and Mualla Selçuk

Religious educators today are called upon to enable young people to develop as fully-rounded human beings in a multicultural and multifaith world. It is no longer sufficient to teach about the history of religions: religion is not relegated to the past. It is no longer sufficient to teach about the observable outward phenomena of religions: religion is not restricted to practices, artefacts, and buildings observable in the outside world. It is also necessary to take seriously what religions believe about themselves, and what religions believe about other religions.
Seen from the inside, religions deal in the currency of truth. For the religions themselves, truth matters. Truth-claims can lead to harmony and peace, but they may also engender discord and violence. What ultimately counts is how one set of truth-claims confronts or embraces the truths claimed by other, different voices. Therefore those who teach religion cannot avoid dealing with the theology of religions.
In this collection of original essays, religious educators shaped by both Christian and Islamic worldviews discuss the problems and opportunities that now face educators and believers alike, as they are confronted by the challenge of teaching religion and teaching truth. The discussion nurtured at the sixteenth conference of the International Seminar on Religious Education and Values is here developed further, to stimulate wider reflection and shape good local practice.


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Part III - Empirical and Pedagogical Studies 133


Part III Empirical and Pedagogical Studies Elisabeth Arweck and Eleanor Nesbitt 9 The Interaction of the Major Religions at Microcosmic Level: Religiously-Mixed Families in the UK The mixed-faith families project ‘Investigating the religious identity formation of young people in mixed- faith families’ was a three-year ethnographic study ( June 2006–September 2009) in the Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit (WRERU) at the University of Warwick, UK, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Fieldwork, mainly involving interviews with individual parents and young people, extended over a period of eighteen months (Autumn 2006–Spring 2008). The stated aim of the project was to identify and explore processes in the religious identity formation of young people in mixed-faith families. The objectives were threefold: (a) to identify dif ferences and commonalties between children’s identity formation and parents’ expectations and percep- tions of this; (b) to assess the impact of religious socialization (formal and informal) and religious education on young people’s religious identity and their responses; (c) to inform theoretical debate in religious studies and religious education on the representation of ‘faith communities’/‘religions’ in syllabuses. The research questions explored the importance of a range of factors, including gender, parents’ commitment, education, socioeconomic status, locality, religious calendars, and perceptions of faith in young people’s faith development, and how these were represented by them and their parents. 136 Elisabeth Arweck and Eleanor Nesbitt For the purpose of this study, the term ‘mixed-faith families’ referred to combinations between four faiths: Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and...

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