Religious and spiritual identity and citizenship education in the UK
Taggart, G. (2010) Religious and spiritual identity and citizenship education in the UK. In: Soininen, M. and Merisuo-Storm, T. (eds.) Looking at Diversity in Different Ways. University of Turku, Turku, Finland, pp. 95-119.
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If education is to be about ‘human flourishing’ (De Ruyter, 2004) as well as preparation for adulthood and work, then religious and citizenship education would seem to have a key contribution towards this goal, both offering opportunities for the exploration and development of a robust sense of identity. However, despite the opposition of most religious educators, religious education has been treated by successive UK governments simply as a form of inculcation into a homogenous notion of citizenship based on nominal church attendance. Moreover, the teaching of the relatively new subject of citizenship education, whilst recognising that the sense of identity and allegiance is complex, has not regularly included faith perspectives. I argue that the concept of ‘spiritual development’, which centres on an existential sense of identity, offers a justification for combining lessons in both religious and citizenship education. I conclude on a cautionary note, arguing that pupils need to be given a critical awareness of ways in which such identities can be provided for them by default, particularly since consumer culture increasingly makes use of ‘spiritual’ language and imagery.
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