1st Edition

Religious Education as a Dialogue with Difference Fostering Democratic Citizenship Through the Study of Religions in Schools

By Kevin O'Grady Copyright 2019
    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    210 Pages
    by Routledge

    Religious Education as a Dialogue with Difference addresses current issues over the study of religion in publicly maintained schools. Are liberal, inclusive approaches to the study of religion suited to the aims of education in a democracy? Do liberal democratic aims offer the right framework for the study of religion? By presenting research on English secondary school pupils' motivation in religious education, this volume argues that religious education is best understood as a democratic dialogue with difference. The book offers empirical evidence for this claim, and it demonstrates how learners gain in religious literacy, both through the exercise of democratic citizenship in the classroom and towards the goal of life-long democratic citizenship.


    1. Motivation in RE: beginnings

    2. RE, adolescence and creativity

    3. Action research, ethnography, epistemology and ethics

    4. RE as a dialogue with difference

    5. Democratic citizenship or religious literacy? Aims and values for RE

    6. Dialogue and conflict in RE

    7. Democratic citizenship and RE revisited

    8. Does RE Work?

    9. Review, recommendations, questions for the future and final remarks


    Kevin O’Grady is an independent religion and worldviews consultant and researcher.

    "With a thirty-three year career in education, Kevin O’Grady’s book offers an illuminating example of how research engagement provides the catalyst for thoughtful and insightful reflections on religious education, current schooling and contemporary research, written ‘as a contribution to debates over how religion should be studied in schools’. […] The book will be of interest to anyone interested in current debates about the place of religious education in society, especially in how these debates play out in classrooms, and in how religious education teachers can also be involved in, comment on and contribute to research."

    Nigel Fancourt, Journal of Beliefs and Values.


    "O’Grady has a convincing argument for RE as a dialogue with difference [. . .] which I would recommend for academics, teacher-trainers, educational experts and stakeholders not only in the UK but in other parts of Europe and in the rest of the world."

    Leni Franken (2019), Religious education as a dialogues with difference: Fostering democratic citizenship through the study of religions in schools, British Journal of Religious Education.


    "Religious Education as a Dialogue with Difference summarizes Kevin O’Grady’s outstanding work in the field of religious education. O’Grady’s excellent, very readable, book is highly relevant to on-going debates about the study of religions and beliefs in schools in different parts of the world, including the USA and Canada. It deserves to be read widely by teachers, student teachers and education academics."

    Robert Jackson, Professor Emeritus, University of Warwick, UK.


    "As a former teacher with similar professional experiences in a culturally diverse inner-city area in England, I recognize the socially challenging, complex, diverse and hugely rewarding teaching context which O'Grady evokes. The examples of pupil voice he captures so scrupulously reminded me of young people I have taught and known. I would be inspired by his practice were I a teacher still and able to translate it to my own classroom.[…] It would be wonderful for the next generation of teacher leaders in schools in England to be introduced to this material . . ."

    Janet Orchard, Senior Lecturer, University of Bristol, UK.


    "Religious Education as a Dialogue with Difference represents a timely contribution to the field of religious education. While primarily based on Kevin O’Grady’s own empirical research, it also incorporates the results of a number of other studies to argue for a multi-faith school subject in which all types of students are taught together regardless of their religious, ethnic and/or cultural background. I consider O’Grady’s book to be of value to the Swedish context and I intend to employ it in my own RE teacher training courses […] I would certainly recommend that other educators take advantage of O’Grady’s thoroughgoing study, especially as it applies to the training of religious education teachers."

    Jenny Berglund, Professor, Stockholm University, Sweden.