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Exploring Diversity: Enhancing the training of teacher of religious education

1 September 2008 - 30 August 2011

PI/s in Exeter: Dr Karen Walshe

Funding awarded: £ 6,000

Sponsor(s): St. Luke's Foundation

About the research

The overall aim of the project is to improve the quality of provision of world religions teaching in schools by enhancing the quality of provision for those training to teach Religious Education (RE) at the Graduate School of Education (GSE), University of Exeter.

Objectives of this project
1. to investigate trainee teachers’ conceptualisations of the world faiths they are expected to teach in the classroom
2. to provide trainees with opportunities to learn about world religions through the eyes of members of faith communities
3. to assess the extent to which experiential learning of world religions results in a deeper appreciation of the diversity of belief and practice found within and between those religions

The hypotheses underpinning this research proposal:
a) that trainee teachers often hold stereotypical impressions of the religions they will be teaching in schools.
b) that these impressions may be largely the result of an over-dependence on learning from resources that define a religion in terms of its most traditional or orthodox representation, giving the impression that views or practices perhaps upheld in reality by a minority represent universal practice in that faith.
c) that the resulting superficial representation of religious beliefs and practices in the classroom, promotes rather than challenges children’s stereotypical images of those religious traditions.