Failures of meaning in religious education

Conroy, James C. and Lundie, David and Baumfield, Vivienne (2012) Failures of meaning in religious education. Journal of Beliefs & Values, 33 (3). pp. 309-323. ISSN 1361-7672

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The educational aims of religious education (RE) in the UK as evinced, for example, by Ofsted have been couched in the language of meaning making. Based on an ESRC funded three-year ethnographic study of 24 schools across the UK, this essay represents one attempt to interrogate how such meanings are shaped, or indeed fail to be shaped, in the day-to-day transactions of the school. We do this by locating RE in current discussions of efficacy, as manifest in inspectoral reports and allied scholarship, illustrate how complex the entailments and purposes of RE are, explore some of the ethnographic and related data to understand how meaning is shaped inside and outside the classroom, and, finally, attempt to locate that material in more general observations about the nature of meaning in RE – observations that are informed by contemporary readings of meaning making in the work of, among others, Baudrillard. We observe that RE, so dependent upon meaning for educational justification, is too frequently a site which witnesses failures of meaning.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: This is an Author's Original Manuscript of an article submitted for consideration in Journal of Beliefs & Values [copyright Taylor & Francis]; Journal of Beliefs & Values is available online at
Keywords: UK, religious education, ethnography, examinations, pupils’ attitudes, aims, meaning, failure of meaning, purposes, relativism, Baudrillard, liminality
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology > BV1460 Religious Education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2361 Curriculum
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Education > Education Studies
Depositing User: Users 4 not found.
Date Deposited: 05 Aug 2013 13:18
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2016 03:26

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