Faith in values

4th July 1997 at 01:00
AGENDA FOR EDUCATIONAL CHANGE. Edited by John Shortt and Trevor Cooling. Apollos. Pounds 14.99

It is a good time to consider the future direction and shape of the education system. We can all agree that standards should be higher, but what of the basis of the curriculum, the values that should underlie schools in a democracy, the place of religion in common or separate Christian, Jewish or Muslim schools and the balance between vocational and liberal education?

This book, by a dozen evangelical Christian educationists from within and outside the UK, considers these big issues. Rejecting the notion of reconstructionism (where religious groups must try to form society in their own image) and compatibilism (where religious and other truths sit side by side in different disciplines without interacting), the majority of these writers opt for a transformationalist strategy (where Christian insights are used to transform existing forms of knowledge).

Trevor Cooling argues for a renegotiation of the relationship between faith, knowledge and civic values. Ruth Deakin wants to make possible the free expression of different world views within a common framework. Jonathan Chaplin considers public political action and a Christian conception of rights. Richard Wilkins considers the basics of the curriculum. Brian Hill wonders whether the assessment tail is wagging the curriculum dog.

The final section includes alternative Christian (Jeff Astley), non-religious (Monica Taylor) and Muslim (Syed Ali Ashraf) responses to what has gone before. The whole book is edited into a very clear and readable unity. Those concerned with the big picture about the future of education should read it.

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