Faith in understanding

17th May 1996 at 01:00
Heinemann's Bridges to Religions series is one of a number of resources for religious education which continue to emerge from the Religions and Education Research Unit at the University of Warwick.

Now comes the news that the unit has been awarded the Spring 1996 Templeton UK Institutional Award, in recognition of its work in fostering knowledge, understanding, and tolerant recognition of the plurality of religious traditions that now enrich this country's life.

The work of the unit has its roots in research begun 10 years ago by its director, Professor Bob Jackson. With his colleague Eleanor Nesbitt he studied, and reported on, a ground-breaking study of the religious lives of children. Nesbitt and Jackson's 1993 Hindu Children in Britain (Trentham Pounds 15. 95), for example, exploded a number of myths and provided valuable background knowledge for teachers.

All of this continuing work has won international recognition and influenced the work of religious educators across the world. What is particularly important is that the unit's accumulated understanding is made available both directly to teachers and in the form of classroom material.

This was undoubtedly an important factor in the decision of the Templeton judges. For his part, Professor Jackson is delighted at what he takes as an understanding that there is value for children in the study of a range of religions. "The judges have recognised the importance of gaining an understanding and appreciation of the various faith communities in our society - and especially of the religious and cultural lives of children growing up in Britain today."

The awards, inaugurated in 1972 by Sir John Templeton, are intended to recognise and encourage contributions to the field of spiritual values. They are given twice a year, and on each occasion there is an individual and an institutional award. Past recipients include Terry Waite, Professor Rusell Stannard, Rabbi Hugo Gryn, The Iona Community and the Student Christian Movement. The judges include Prince Edward and Lord Hailsham.

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