Religion, schooling and the state: negotiating and constructing the secular space

Leslie Bash

Abstract


As a prelude to the paper it should be stated that its genesis originates in conference presentations delivered on two separate occasions to two separate audiences. The first was to a mixed group of teacher educators, Roman Catholic priests and nuns, as well as others from diverse religious traditions, at a one-day conference on religion and pluralism held in Dublin, Republic of Ireland. The expressed focus for this conference was ‘inter-faith’ but with the addition of a secular dimension. The second presentation was to an international group largely comprised of comparative education scholars in Glasgow, Scotland. Although the two presentations were broadly similar in content the Dublin paper had a distinct orientation. Given that the publicly-funded Irish school system was characterised by a strong involvement of religion (Department of Education and Skills, 2017) – in particular, that of the Roman Catholic Church, the dominant tradition in that country – the Dublin presentation pursued an approach which sought to widen the educational agenda. Specifically, it focused upon the continuing discussion concerning the role of secularity in school systems where confessional approaches to religion were sanctioned by the central state. On the other hand, the Glasgow presentation was more ‘academic’ in tone, seeking to re-position secularity and religion in a non-oppositional relationship which was, in turn, argued to be functional for 21st education systems.

 


Keywords


Comparative Religions; Comparative Education; Secular space

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5944/reec.33.2019.22327

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