Religious education and moral development

Clive Erricker

RE and moral development

RE and moral development

a_Books-21.jpg Moral development is described by Ofsted as being about ‘the building of a framework of moral values for pupils which regulates their personal behaviour...the development of pupils’ understanding of society’s shared and agreed values’ and that ‘society’s values change’ and that ‘there are contentious issues where there is disagreement’ requiring pupils to ‘develop an opinion about the different views’ (Ofsted 2003: 14).

From this description we can see that moral development is connected to the study of ethics and moral education but goes further by emphasising expectations in pupils’ development and emphasising normative values as well as noting areas of disagreement. The expectation is placed upon pupils becoming moral agents supportive of the society of which they are citizens.

The QCDA has also revised its description of moral development, as follows, and reads a little differently:

Moral development may be described as young people gaining a sense of moral values from their experience of learning, enabling them to think and act responsibly, courageously and compassionately towards themselves, other people, society and the environment.

Children who are developing morally are likely to be:

Successful learners, who:

  • have enquiring minds and think for themselves to process information, reason, question and evaluate
  • understand how they learn, and learn from their mistakes
  • are able to learn independently and with others

Confident individuals, who

  • relate well to others and form good relationships
  • have secure values and beliefs, and have principles to distinguish right from wrong
  • take managed risks and stay safe

Responsible citizens, who

  • are well prepared for life and work
  • are able to work cooperatively with others
  • respect others and act with integrity
  • understand their own and others' cultures and traditions
  • appreciate the benefits of diversity
  • challenge injustice, are committed to human rights and strive to live peaceably with others
  • sustain and improve the environment, locally and globally
  • take account of the needs of present and future generations in the choices they make
  • can change things for the better

QCDA link

a_Books-21.jpgReligious education can be expected to make a strong contribution to moral development through the study of religious and non-religious groups, by showing how values change over time, and within different contexts and by engaging pupils in a direct and challenging way with concepts such as justice, truth, love, rights and equality. It can also promote the skills and capacities required for the philosophical analysis that moral questions require, and apply these to pertinent contemporary issues.

The opportunities available to RE can be relished because of the depth of enquiry that can be accomplished, through analysis of sources of moral authority, variety of contexts, different forms of argument and their influences on societies. However, there is a danger that such opportunities will be lost if just a normative approach to values is taken in order to ensure pupils are compliant in both their thinking and behaviour.

a_Books-21.jpgMoral development goes beyond the demands of the study of ethics as an intellectual discipline because it involves personal engagement, reflexivity and a recognition of oneself as part of a community. ‘Without personal engagement in actual moral situations, as they appear in real life with real participants, children will not be able to decide how to behave’ (Erricker, J. 2000: 90). Given this it is important that, within the classroom, children are presented with situations that pertain to their own lives and those of others in a concrete fashion.

Resources

Resources

References

References

  • Erricker, C. And Erricker J. (2000) Reconstructing Religious, Spiritual and Moral Education, London: RoutledgeFalmer.
  • Erricker, J. (2000) 'Moral education as relationship in community', Erricker, C. And Erricker J. Reconstructing Religious, Spiritual and Moral Education, London: RoutledgeFalmer.
  • Erricker, C. Erricker, J. Ota, C. Sullivan, D. And Fletcher, M. (1997) The Education of the Whole Child, London: Cassell.
  • Hay, D. (1985) 'Suspicion of the Spiritual: Teaching Religion in a World of Secular Experience', British Journal of Religious Education, 7.1, pp. 140-7.
  • Hay, D. with Nye, R. (1998) The Spirit of the Child, London: Fount.
  • Jackson, R. (1997) Religious Education: an interpretive approach, London: Hodder and Stoughton.
  • Jackson, R. (2004) Rethinking Religious Education and Plurality: issues in diversity and pedagogy, London and |New York: RoutledgeFalmer.
  • MacIntyre, A. (1985) After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, London: Duckworth.
  • National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education (1999) All Our Futures: Creativity, Culture and Education, London: DfEE and DCMS.
  • Nesbitt, E. (2004) Intercultural Education: ethnographic and religious approaches, Brighton and Portland: Sussex Academic Press.
  • Office for Standards in Education (1999) Handbook for Inspecting Primary and Nursery Schools, London: Ofsted.
  • Office for Standards in Education (2003), Promoting and Evaluating Pupils’ Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural Development: guidance for schools, London: Ofsted.
  • Priestley, J. (1997) 'Spirituality, Curriculum and Education', International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 2.1, pp.23-34.
  • Sharp, P. (2001) Nurturing Emotional Literacy, London: David Fulton.
  • Webster, R.S. (2009) 'The educative value of Dewey’s religious attitude for spirituality', International Journal of Children’s Spirituality 14.2. pp.93-104.
Books

Books

  • Alexander, H. (ed.) (2004) Spirituality and Ethics in Education: philosophical, theological and radical perspectives, Brighton and Portland: Sussex Academic Press.
  • Copley, T. (2000) Spiritual Development in the State School, Exeter: University of Exeter Press.
  • Copley, T. (2005) Indoctrination, Education and God: the struggle for the mind, London: SPCK.
  • De Souza, M., Durka, G., Engebretson, K., Jackson, R. And McGrady, A. (eds.) (2006) International Handbook of the Religious, Moral and Spiritual Dimensions of Education, (2 vols), Dordrecht: Springer
  • Erricker, C., Erricker, J., Ota, C., Sullivan, D. and Fletcher, M. (1997) The Education of the Whole Child, London: Cassell.
  • Erricker, C. and Erricker J. (2000) Reconstructing Religious, Spiritual and Moral Education, London: RoutledgeFalmer.
  • Erricker, C. And Erricker, J. (eds.) (2001) Meditation in Schools: calmer classrooms, London and New York: Continuum.
  • Erricker, C. (2001) When Learning Becomes Your Enemy: Spirituality, Education and Economics, Nottingham: Educational Heretics Press.
  • Erricker, C. (2009) 'A Buddhist Approach to Alternative Schooling' in Woods, Philip, A. and Woods, Glenys J. (eds) Alternative Education for the 21st Century, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Erricker, C. (2010) Religious Education: a conceptual and interdisciplinary approach for secondary level, London: FultonRoutledge.
  • Erricker, C., Lowndes, J., Bellchambers, E. (2010) Primary Religious Education-a new approach: conceptual enquiry in primary RE, London: FultonRoutledge.
  • Gardner, R., Cairns, J., Lawton, D. (eds.) (2000) Education for Values: morals, ethics and citizenship in contemporary teaching, London: Kogan Page.
  • Grimmitt, M. (2000) Pedagogies of Religious Education, Great Wakering, Essex: McCrimmons.
  • Hay, D. with Nye, R. (1998) The Spirit of the Child, London: Fount.
  • Jackson, R. (1997) Religious Education: an interpretive approach, London: Hodder and Stoughton.
  • Jackson, R. (2004) Rethinking Religious Education and Plurality: issues in diversity and pedagogy, London and New York: RoutledgeFalmer.
  • Nesbitt, E. (2004) Intercultural Education: ethnographic and religious approaches, Brighton and Portland: Sussex Academic Press.
  • Ota, C., Erricker, J., Erricker, C. (eds) (2001) Spiritual Education: cultural, religious and social differences – new perspectives for the 21st Century, Brighton and Portland: Sussex Academic Press.
  • Ota, C. and Erricker, C. (eds) (2005) Spiritual Education: literary, empirical and pedagogical approaches, Brighton and Portland: Sussex Academic Press.
  • Wright, A. (2004) Religion, Education and Post-modernity, London and New York: RoutledgeFalmer.
  • Wright, A. (2007) Critical Religious Education, Multiculturalism and the Pursuit of Truth, Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
Journals

Journals

  • British Journal of Religious Education
  • International Journal of Children’s Spirituality
  • Journal of Beliefs and Values
  • Journal of Moral Education

All these journals are available electronically at http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/online.asp

Useful websites

Useful websites