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Inter faith encounter and religious understanding in an inner city primary school

By Julia Ipgrave


The subject of this thesis is the influence of encounter on the religious understanding of a group of primary age children in inner city Leicester. The research focuses on a minority of non-Muslim children in a predominantly Muslim area,, and is informed by small discussion groups in which the children were free to explore and share their own ideas. The study begins by presenting a view of children as active in the construction of their own lives.\ud The young participants' contributions to the discussions are related to other theoretical positions on children's religion and a cognitive and language-based approach is advocated. A progressive, developmental model of children's religious thinking is rejected in favour of a model that allows multi-directional movement to and fro between different faith styles in response to a number of contextual factors.\ud Detailed textual analysis of the transcribed conversations reveals the inffuences of social encounter on the children's understanding. It also recognises the creativity of the children's religious thinking when their perspectives are brought into dialogical relationship with the viewpoints of others. As they assimilate words and discourses from their wider environment, the children adapt them and employ them for their own ends. Their social context of religious plurality supplies a bank of understandings and associations. From this they select and negotiate meanings to suit the requirements of the immediate communicative context of the discussions. The outcome of the process is the children's ongoing theological engagement with questions of religious identity and belie

Topics: LB1501, BL
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