Do Religious Studies Still Have a Role in Education? Are Religious Studies Still Relevant to the Classroom? Should the Study of Religion Remain a Staple Part of the Curriculum or Would Neglecting the Subject Lead to Fear, Ignorance and Prejudice? Here ANDREW PEARCE and LYNDA MADDOCK, Religious Studies Subject Officers at the WJEC, Weigh Up the Arguments

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), September 20, 2018 | Go to article overview

Do Religious Studies Still Have a Role in Education? Are Religious Studies Still Relevant to the Classroom? Should the Study of Religion Remain a Staple Part of the Curriculum or Would Neglecting the Subject Lead to Fear, Ignorance and Prejudice? Here ANDREW PEARCE and LYNDA MADDOCK, Religious Studies Subject Officers at the WJEC, Weigh Up the Arguments


Byline: ANDREW PEARCE and LYNDA MADDOCK

There appears to be a growing perception that Religious Studies is an irrelevant and even outdated subject due to the increasing secularisation of society.

Sceptics may argue that it is a subject full of myths, such as elephantheaded gods saving princesses, and should be consigned to history.

However, this does the subject, those who teach it and those who study it a great disservice. Such a narrow approach in a multicultural but increasingly secular society is dangerous, because a lack of knowledge and understanding about religion can lead to ignorance and prejudice.

The view that RS is of less importance than other subjects appears to be borne out in a recent report from the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) which suggests that many schools are not recognising the importance of the subject or meeting the legal requirement in terms of curriculum time. Schools at present place a heavy emphasis on STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), while marginalising other subjects, including RS. So in the words of Monty Python, "what can Religious Studies do for us?" The academic benefits of RS are well-documented. A-level RS is recognised as a "facilitating subject" by Russell Group universities, as it develops students' critical thinking skills. The study of religion provides them with the skills to develop, analyse and evaluate logical arguments and present these in a variety of formats. However, the benefits of studying RS aren't limited to the confines of the classroom. It also encourages students to develop as individuals. It gives them the opportunity to work out what they believe in and question why they do. It allows them to discuss their views on a range of ethical issues from genetics to warfare. Importantly, it encourages students to empathise with those who hold opposing views.

According to a GCSE RS student at Cardiff High School, "RS allowed me to gain knowledge of other cultures and an understanding and appreciation of many religions that I would not have known about otherwise."

A careful distinction needs to be drawn between an increase in secularism in certain societies and an increase generally. The fact remains that two-thirds of the world's population adhere to a religious faith.

Indeed, even in the UK, over half the population claim to hold religious beliefs. …

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Do Religious Studies Still Have a Role in Education? Are Religious Studies Still Relevant to the Classroom? Should the Study of Religion Remain a Staple Part of the Curriculum or Would Neglecting the Subject Lead to Fear, Ignorance and Prejudice? Here ANDREW PEARCE and LYNDA MADDOCK, Religious Studies Subject Officers at the WJEC, Weigh Up the Arguments
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