Religious Education and Social and Community Cohesion: An Exploration of Challenges and Opportunities
Religious education and social and community cohesion is an interesting project which has resulted in a timely and thought-provoking text. In recent times there has been a good deal of interest in the place of religion and faith in public life, policy and education and, in particular, in the affect (positive or otherwise) which religion and faith have on social and community cohesion. This excellent book significantly adds to this debate. Wide-ranging in its scope, and what the editor declares will be his last book in a long career in religious education, Michael Grimmett has successfully brought together a cohesive and significant text which should be of interest to a wide audience. In his introduction Grimmett makes clear his thinking behind the project: ‘a seismic shift in the social, political, religious, moral and ethnic landscape of the UK in the last decade has presented RE with a new and still to be addressed challenge and has shown... that current theories and practice in RE are no longer entirely sufficient to address the very different circumstances created by the emergence of what I will call ‘globalised and politicised religion’ (p. 10). The chapters contained within the collected edition explore and interrogate issues around social and community cohesion and their implications for religious education in schools. The text is particularly successful in charting the changing nature of the teaching RE since the 1944 Education Act (a time which has witnessed a transition from the confessional, to the secular, to what might loosely be termed the ‘post-secular’), and it does so in a way which brings the recent history of RE teaching to bear on the role of the subject in building social and community cohesion in the contemporary context.
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