Religion in decline

11th January 2008 at 00:00

Teachers in Scotland are needed for research on the changing nature of religious education.

Aberdeen University's Graeme Nixon has already carried out a pilot survey with schools in the city, and wants to build on his initial findings. He was looking to see if secularisation, postmodernity and more democratic education methods had led to a "more philosophical and non-confessional" religious education.

In a presentation at the recent annual conference of the Scottish Educational Research Association, he pointed to the use of "The Simpsons" (below) and Phillip Pullman's "Golden Compass" trilogy as possible evidence of postmodernity and the decline of institutional spirituality. He said: "RE has had to change to be relevant in an age when the old tribal answers don't seem to be working, and where educational practice has become increasingly democratic."

Most RE departments in the pilot thought increasingly philosophical approaches had emerged as a result of secularisation and the decline of religion. Some thought that pupils and teachers wanted to "retreat from the fundamentalism associated with religion".

A questionnaire for RE teachers is available at: www.abdn.ac.ukeducationictdocumentsGNSurvey.shtml.

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