Is tolerance of faith helpful in English school policy? Reification, complexity and values education

Journal article


Bowie, R. A. 2017. Is tolerance of faith helpful in English school policy? Reification, complexity and values education. Oxford Review of Education. 43 (5), pp. 536-549. https://doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2017.1352350
AuthorsBowie, R. A.
Abstract

Government policies for teachers and schools in England promote values including tolerance of faiths and beliefs alongside law keeping, democracy and respect. Tolerance of faiths has been highlighted as a key value but complexities around tolerance make interpretations and applications of the policy difficult. Policy documents in this area are inevitably interpreted through the context of events and concerns and with the education accountability culture as a driving motivation. In addition, insights from leading scholarly treatments of tolerance raise further difficulties of conceptual clarity and moral worth. One treatment critiques tolerance discourses as sustaining unequal power relationships. Another posits tolerance as reciprocal respect necessary in a democracy. A key claim in the article is that teachers and school leaders are left to resolve difficulties in translating tolerance policy into practice with the threat of sanction through inspection and associated processes. The article identifies for the first time an additional specific danger that the context of this policy simplifies complex factors by compressing concerns about a number of issues into single category of the value of tolerance of religion. While tolerance of religion is necessary in plural liberal democracies, emphasizing religion contributes to a reification that religion is the determining identity criteria of concern which may have the unintended consequence of polarising interests and communities.

KeywordsValues; tolerance; religion; identity compression
Year2017
JournalOxford Review of Education
Journal citation43 (5), pp. 536-549
PublisherTaylor & Francis
ISSN0305-4985
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1080/03054985.2017.1352350
Publication dates
Online04 Oct 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited30 Jun 2017
Accepted15 Jun 2017
Accepted author manuscript
Output statusPublished
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https://repository.canterbury.ac.uk/item/88376/is-tolerance-of-faith-helpful-in-english-school-policy-reification-complexity-and-values-education

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