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“I am a Catholic Buddhist”: the voice of children on religion and religious education in an Irish Catholic primary school classroom
Harmon, Maurice
The study of religion and religious education (RE) has become a significant educational issue in Europe and in the wider international context. This original research study offers another voice, often absent from the conversation, that of the children in one Irish Catholic primary school classroom. Thirty-five children aged between eleven and thirteen become co-researchers in a participatory-based exploration of their views on religion and religious education. An interpretive paradigm is used, which is concerned with understanding the world as it is from the subjective reality of the individual. The study is therefore grounded in the children’s own experiences and perceptions within the qualitative field of study. Children in the study are from a variety of religious and belief traditions and all did not partake in formal RE in school, as per their parent’s right to withdraw then. The children highlight how their families’ belief systems have an influence on how they perceive their religious selves. Many try to reconcile the different religious and belief systems that are to be found within their homes with the articulation of their own belief systems. Seventy-one percent of children who self-identify as accessing the Catholic tradition cite grandparents as the main influence in their belief system, which is significant for the future of the tradition in Ireland. All children articulate their desire to learn more about other religious or belief traditions as part of their RE curriculum in school. Identification of and respect for diversity is evident, but little knowledge is articulated in relation to the content of the others’ religious traditions. Interest is shown in learning about the religious other in children’s environment by engaging in what Ipgrave (Mc Kenna, et al, 2008, pp.13-25) refers to as “Spiritual Sharing” - learning the stories of religious and belief traditions beyond their own and partaking in the participatory methods employed in the study. The research findings suggest that children have a clear sense of “being” religious or having a belief system that is valued. They identify how it is to “behave” in a certain way as a result of this. Noticeably, the Catholic children struggle with a sense of belonging to communities of faith practice which is not the case for children of other traditions in the study. Irrespective of whether children access RE as an element of their curricular experience or not, all children endorse the importance of RE in the primary school curriculum. The thesis concludes by considering the implications emerging from this research in the Irish context and offers recommendations for reflection by the various stakeholders for policy and practice going forward.
Keyword(s): Religions; Education; Religious Education; Voice of the child; Identity
Publication Date:
Type: Other
Peer-Reviewed: Unknown
Language(s): English
Contributor(s): Cullen, Sandra
Institution: Dublin City University
Citation(s): Harmon, Maurice (2018) “I am a Catholic Buddhist”: the voice of children on religion and religious education in an Irish Catholic primary school classroom. Doctor of Education thesis, Dublin City University.
Publisher(s): Dublin City University. School of Human Development
File Format(s): application/pdf
Related Link(s):
First Indexed: 2018-11-22 06:08:17 Last Updated: 2019-02-09 06:07:06