My interest in interfaith education stems from my own upbringing. Living in Birmingham, I have the privilege of being fully immersed in a multicultural and multi-faith community. My grandparents moved to England from Northern Ireland in the 1950s, with my Grandad being raised Presbyterian and my Nan raised Catholic, meaning that my household had both influences and I was always interested in how these differing Christian denominations came to life in one space. This really kickstarted my interest in further exploring the different faith paths of the world leading me to train as a Religious Studies teacher.
The Importance of Interfaith Education
Many of us now live in incredibly diverse and multi-faith societies, and interfaith education has an important role to play in our ever-changing world. It holds an incredibly unique position in building trust and respect across communities, going beyond ‘tolerance,’ and working as a cornerstone of peace.
The Inter Faith Network for the UK champions the importance in gaining a deep understanding of the world’s diverse faiths and works across organisations and educational contexts to raise awareness of the different faiths throughout the UK.
Interfaith education allows for existing networks of interfaith collaboration to strengthen, as well as opening the door to cultivating new ones; many networks dedicate their time to social action, so it is clear to see why interfaith education is so important.
Studying Interfaith Education
Interfaith education is not limited to the classroom! It should be seen as an opportunity to get to know the community you live in, to interact with everyone and a chance to even learn something new. Given the current times we live in, this year’s interfaith week offers the opportunity to reach out to different members of your community and learn more about how their faith impacts their daily lives.
In a world that can often feel divided, studying interfaith education allows you to learn not just ‘about’ different religions but also ‘from’ different religions resulting in a greater understanding of lived religion. A fundamental outcome of interfaith education is religious literacy, which is the ability to learn about and from different religions in an informed and sensitive manner. Globalisation has resulted in the creation of highly diverse communities, and with that comes the exciting responsibility to learn more about our neighbours.
Photograph of my nan on her confirmation.
Deborah Court & Jack L. Seymour (2015) What Might Meaningful Interfaith Education Look Like? Exploring Politics, Principles, and Pedagogy, Religious Education, 110:5, 517-533
Religious Literacy: A Way Forward for Religious Education? A Report Submitted to the Culham St. Gabriel’s Trust Gert Biesta, David Aldridge, Patricia Hannam & Sean Whittle June 2019
~ Written by OneSpirit’s Learning Design Specialist, Maddy