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Author(s): Moulin, Daniel
Date: 2013
Abstract: The increasing diversity of societies is one of the most important educational issues of the globalised era. However, while some attention has been paid to the schooling experiences of racial, ethnic and immigrant minorities in Western societies, little research has been conducted with religious adolescents.
This thesis explores the complexities of religious adolescents’ experiences of English secondary schools. As an exploratory study, I employed an emergent research design carrying out loosely-structured, group and single interviews at eleven places of worship to investigate the schooling experiences of 99 adolescent Christians, Jews and Muslims. In order to interpret their reported experiences, I applied a theoretical model based on the Students’ Multiple World Framework in conjunction with concepts of religious identity negotiation and construction.
The interview data show how Christians, Jews and Muslims negotiate their religious identities in the context of the numerous challenges presented by secondary schools in a religiously plural and largely secular society. In classroom worlds participants perceived their religious traditions to be distorted, inaccurately or unfairly represented. In peer worlds participants reported that they could experience prejudice, and criticism of their beliefs. Christians, Jews and Muslims reported two principal management strategies in the face of these challenges, either: declaring their religious identity openly, or by masking it in public.
The findings of this study are highly relevant to debates about the role of religion in education, including those concerning faith and Church schools and the nature and purpose of the curriculum subject Religious Education.