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

Bowie, R. (2017) Is tolerance of faiths helpful in English school policy? Reification, complexity, and values education. Oxford Review of Education, 43. pp. 536-549. ISSN 0305-4985.

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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 a single category of the value of tolerance of religion. While tolerance of religion is necessary in plural liberal democracies, emphasising 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.

Special issue: Muslims, schooling and the limits of religious identity

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Values; tolerance; religion; identity compression
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
L Education
Divisions: Faculty of Education > School of Teacher Education and Development
Depositing User: Miss Rosemary Cox
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2017 16:03
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2019 05:45

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00