Religion, Education, and Post-Modernity

Religion, Education, and Post-Modernity

Religion, Education, and Post-Modernity

Religion, Education, and Post-Modernity

Synopsis

This book, the first to explore religious education and post-modernity in depth, sets out to provide a much needed examination of the problems and possibilities post-modernity raises for religious education. At once a general introduction to this topic and a distinctive contribution to the debate in its own right, Religion, Education and Post-modernity explores and illuminates the problems and possibilities opened up for religious education by postmodern thought and culture. The book describes the emergence of post-modernity, considers the impact of post-modernity on religion, addresses its impact on the philosophy of religion and considers the nature of religious education in the post-modern world. Andrew Wright argues that, although post-modernity has much to offer the religious educator, there are also many pitfalls and dangers to be avoided. Steering clear of the extreme of post-modern hyper-realism, he constructs a religious pedagogy sensitive to post-modern concerns for alterity, difference and the voice of the Other, whilst insisting on the importance of reasons in cultivating religious literacy.

Excerpt

The nominalist contention that the relationship between language and reality is entirely arbitrary is, I believe, misplaced: the stories we tell and the life-styles we adopt enjoy a rich synergetic relationship with the world we indwell. This is not to suggest that the narratives through which we order our lives are necessarily correct; merely that it would appear to make sense to seek out stories that are as truthful to the actual order-of-things as possible.

During my time as a classroom teacher I became aware that a number of my pupils had learnt to make key life-changing decisions on the basis of a distinctive, if largely implicit, romantic narrative that identifies intensity of feeling as the basic criterion for any choice of action. This left me uneasy, both because intensity of feeling seemed to me to be a particularly fragile foundation on which to base one's life, and because the commitment to romanticism ruled out a range of alternative options. I entered the world of academia to discover that many religious educators had themselves bought wholesale into the romantic myth, and were busy advocating the cultivation of spiritual sensibility as a means of establishing the legitimacy and relevance of religious education in the curriculum. Consequently over a five-year period I sought to develop a critical approach to spiritual education designed to cast doubt on the provenance of an experientially based religious pedagogy, open up other potential horizons of meaning, and empower students to take responsibility for their spiritual lives by cultivating appropriate levels of religious literacy (Wright 1996a, 1996b, 1997a, 1997b, 1998a, 1988b, 1999, 2000a, 2000b).

During that period I was happy to dismiss post-modernity as little more than a radicalisation of the romantic tradition: just as romanticism invited children to trust their inner experiences, so post-modernity went a stage further by encouraging children to construct their own fictional realities on the basic of their personal desires, preferences and inclinations. I did not, at that stage, anticipate engaging in any more detailed examination of post-modern philosophy. Two factors changed my mind. The first was the

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