1st Edition

Conceptualising Religion and Worldviews for the School Opportunities, Challenges, and Complexities of a Transition from Religious Education in England and Beyond

By Kevin O'Grady Copyright 2022
    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    This timely volume addresses current debates surrounding the transition from the teaching of religious education (RE) to the more holistic subject of Religion and Worldviews (R&W) in England, and posits criteria for best practice among educators in varied settings and in a broader international context.

    By examining empirical sources, governmental reports, and in particular the 2018 final report from the Commission on Religious Education (CORE), the volume suggests key principles needed to guide the transition and ensure that R&W is effectively integrated into curricula, pedagogy, and teaching resources to meet the needs of all student groups. By effectively conceptualising R&W, the volume gives particular attention to the intersections of the subject with democratic citizenship education, intercultural competence, and religious literacy.

    This text will benefit researchers, academics, and educators with an interest in religious education and teacher education as well as the philosophy and sociology of education more broadly. Those interested in education policy and politics, as well as citizenship and schooling in the UK, will also benefit from this volume.

    Introduction: Religion, Worldviews and Education: Opportunities, Challenges, Complexities and Position

    1 The CORE Report: Background, Content, and Reception

    2 Religion, Worldviews, and Education for Democratic Citizenship: Perspectives from beyond England

    3 Religion and Religions

    4 Worldview and Worldviews

    5 Religion and Worldviews within RE

    6 Religion, Worldviews, Knowledge and Disciplines

    7 Well-Being and the Public Good: Education, Religion and Worldviews

    8 Religion and Worldview Literacy

    9 Big Ideas and the Challenge of Curriculum Design

    10 Review, Reflections, Recommendations


    Kevin O’Grady is an independent educational consultant and researcher based in Sheffield, England. His book Religious Education as a Dialogue with Difference was published by Routledge in 2019.

    This superb book is both scholarly and professionally engaged. It starts out from the recent English report on religious education that proposes a change to ‘religion and worldviews’. In tackling that possible change, O’Grady explores the whole range of philosophical, professional, educational and religious issues relevant to the future of religious education globally. There are few writers able to tackle so many dimensions of the topic. All interested in religious education policy and practice, and all interested in teaching, learning and researching religion, will find this book interesting, informative, and valuable.

    -- Julian Stern, Professor of Education and Religion, Bishop Grosseteste University, UK and General Secretary of the International Seminar on Religious Education and Values.

    As schooling is being reimagined and reconfigured in response to a multitude of global issues and challenges, O’Grady's new book provides a valuable resource for examining and creating the next iteration of religious education (RE) in England. Following the report of the Commission of Religious Education (CORE), this book tackles complex and crucial questions, including those around the concepts at the very heart of this endeavor: the nature of religion and worldviews, how to educate for democratic citizenship, and how these might be understood in the context of religion courses. A thorough examination of the CORE report and other relevant literature provide a solid footing for the theoretical reflections and make the discussion accessible to scholars and practitioners across multiple disciplines. Most importantly, O’Grady never strays too far away from the practical and concrete setting of the classroom, bringing considerations such as engaging age-appropriate vocabulary and students’ prior knowledge to his discussion of philosophical concepts. This results in a book that is both lofty in its vision for the future of Religion and Worldviews and firmly grounded in the reality of schools and classrooms. This skillful balance invites conversation among the many stakeholders engaged in this work and will surely inform ongoing efforts to create rigorous and meaningful education about religion and worldviews for the next generation of students.

    -- Kate E. Soules, Executive Director, Religion & Education Collaborative, USA.

    Over the years Kevin O’Grady has shown himself to be an able and articulate commentator on developments in English religious education. In this, his latest book, he speaks as an advocate of interpretive religious education, of which he is associated as a member of the research team which developed this approach, under the direction of Robert Jackson. Beginning with the assumption that the proposals of the Commission on Religious Education that religions should be reconceptualised as worldviews and that a study of secular worldviews should be included in religious education, O’Grady broadens the scope of the interpretive approach to incorporate these new ideas. He also shows how a worldviews vision for religious education can contribute to the ‘public good’, which he regards as closely related to personal well-being and to democratic citizenship. This is an important book, scholarly and broad ranging; it shows how interpretive religious education can be reinterpreted and extended for a new generation of religious educators. Conceptualising Religion and Worldviews for the Classroom makes a significant contribution to debates about the future direction of religious education.

    -- L. Philip Barnes

    , Emeritus Reader in Religious and Theological Education, King’s College London and recent editor of Religion and Worldviews, Routledge, 2022.

    How to educate children and young people about religions and worldviews in a superdiverse and globalised world? What about knowledge, understanding and experience on and in religion and world views? These questions are central in this book that brings together current curriculum debates and empirical research in the field of religious education (RE). O’Grady provides a welcome and comprehensive look at debates on the RE subject within an English context but goes far beyond and brings in theoretical and empirical research and conceptual understandings on religious education and/or religion and world views from many contexts and perspectives. The central thesis in the book is that religious education is best understood as a democratic dialogue with difference which is substantiated by solid arguments. The book is a must for everyone teaching or researching in religious education, but also for students and researchers in broader educational fields such as citizenship studies, curriculum theory and intercultural and postcolonial studies.

    - Kerstin von Brömssen, Professor Educational Science, University West, Sweden.

    O’Grady presents a multi-faceted exploration and theorisation of the current state of play in English RE. The book brings together the latest thinking and research on Religion & Worldviews with foundational texts, drawing out their continued relevance as well as the challenges presented by the contemporary context. As such, the book offers a reflective journey through past and current thinking around RE in England and internationally, which has usefulness way beyond, for broader curriculum development and particularly global citizenship education.

    -- Dr Martha Shaw, Associate Professor, Education, School of Law and Social Sciences, London South Bank University 

    “Having read most, if not all, of the responses to the CoRE report, I judge O’Grady’s book to be the most insightful so far. He positions himself as a sympathetic critic who values the thrust of the CoRE educational vision but offers refinements and alternative ways of thinking. Much of the debate around the CoRE report has been fractious and parochial. O’Grady’s contribution is in stark contrast to these debates. Modelling the Warwick interpretive approach, he draws on an extensive  international literature, treating his sources with respect in his representation of them and with insight in his interpretation of their significance. His brief autobiographical contribution is an important indicator of how personal reflexivity is an academic virtue for academics, teachers and pupils in a worldview approach. Every Christian educator interested in how a worldview approach might contribute to public education should read this book.”

    -- Trevor Cooling, International Journal of Christianity & Education