Understanding 'understanding' in Religious Education
British Journal of Religious Education
Taylor and Francis
This paper takes as its starting point, one of the explicit aims of religious education in England, namely, the development of students’ religious understanding. It shows how curriculum documentation, whilst stating that religious understanding is an aim of religious education fails to clearly outline what is meant by it. This paper draws upon long-standing and ongoing debates in the field and suggests that religious understanding may be best conceived as a spectrum of understanding. Approached in this way, religious understanding becomes not an all or nothing affair, but a lens through which the student of religion may regard the beliefs and practices before them. Finally, the paper proposes an interpretation of religious understanding, which focuses on the soteriological dimension of religion, thus providing the student with a particularly religious lens to understand religious traditions in religious education and concludes by outlining what such an approach might look like in practice.