Schools Failing in Religious Studies: My Response to the BBC

An article published today on the BBC news website has definitely caught my attention; so much so it prompted me to write a response. You can read it here, below.

Original article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-24399813

Having just completed a BA in Theology & Religious Studies, this news disappoints me even more than it would have prior to my degree study. Regardless of the depth studied at degree level, Theology & Religious Studies as a subject (as pointed out by the report) can help promote social cohesion and can prompt in-depth enquiry into topical issues raised by contemporary religious practices.

As much as I feel that more focus on Religious Studies is needed, I also feel strongly that the way it is taught and corresponding syllabuses need to be changed radically in order for the subject to have any notable impact on people’s views and beliefs concerning religiosity. Based on my experiences from both primary and secondary education, the content of lessons seemed to be merely asserting certain religious groups’ views on their respective doctrines and on topical issues; most notably abortion and euthanasia – “Muslims believe this”, “Christians believe this”, “Jews believe this” etc.

It is not until A-level and furthermore degree level (which I must point out, are not compulsory!), that students are encouraged to think more critically about religious ideas. There is a vast wealth of theological and religious ideas out there in the world; the narrow-minded and dogmatic approach of primary and secondary religious education does not even scratch the surface of such ideas.

It is this faultless ignorance on the part of students that, I believe, is one of the greatest causes for declining religious adherence not only in the UK but also the rest of the Western World. In addition to this, a failure to understand the reality of differing religious and theological interpretations is, without doubt, a leading cause for racial and religious prejudice.” – Clarke Roberts 06/10/13

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