Into the current debate on the place of RE in the 'English Baccalaureate' (see REact) Robert Jackson, Professor of Education at the University of Warwick and Director of Warwick Religions and Education Research Unit, has responded to David Cameron's speech in Munich where he spoke on multiculturalism, security and religion. In particular, he highlights the desires of young people for more and better qualitiy education on these issues, and particularly on the role of religious education. This extract is from an overview article in ekklesia:
Professor Jackson cites European research – notably the European Commission Project on Religion, Education, Dialogue and Conflict (REDCo) among 14-16 year olds in eight countries, with which he was involved – as demonstrating the desire of young people for a 'safe space' within the school curriculum to explore different beliefs in a thoughtful way.
He declares: "Mr Cameron might give some careful attention to their views. First, the majority of students surveyed wish for peaceful coexistence across differences, and believe this to be possible. Second, they believe that peaceful coexistence depends on knowledge about each other’s religions and worldviews and sharing common interests as well as doing things together."
The research also shows that "students who learn about religious diversity in school are more willing to have conversations about religions/beliefs with students of other backgrounds than those who do not... They want learning to take place in a ‘safe’ classroom environment ... They want teachers to combine expertise in the study of religions and social and cultural issues with expertise as facilitators of discussion and exchange."
"Students do not want to be told what to believe," stresses Professor Jackson, "but would like the state-funded school to be a place for learning about different religions, and for clarifying their own views."
The original article by Robert Jackson is here.
The full REDCo report is here (pdf) and there are some compelling research findings from students, some cited in the extract above, as well as policy recommendations. It's only 4 pages long and succinct.