Teaching religious education for all students: A case study of Hong Kong

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Abstract

Many societies around the world have been undergoing a greater extent of multi-culture and -religion and trying to find solutions to create peaceful plurality society. Recent western studies on religious education focus on the investigation of classroom teaching, exploring the teaching approaches in religious education for the multi-religion context. Grimmitt’s pedagogical model for human development in religious education is one of the ways for the learning and teaching of religious education in a pluralist context, involving the concepts of “learning about religion” and “learning from religion”. This pedagogical model stresses on supporting students’ understanding of self and developing of self through learning about and from religion(s). It assumes the study of religion(s) has some benefits to all students, including religious and secular students. The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it aims at exploring the real teaching practice in religious education lessons by using Grimmitt’s human development model and the concepts of learning about and from religion. Second, with reference to Hong Kong, it aims to provide empirical evidence for learning about and from religion; that could help understanding of the teaching of religious education in the Chinese multi-religious context. Hong Kong as a multi-religious society was selected as a case for this study. In Hong Kong, there are a large variety of religious groups, such as Buddhism, Taoism, Christianity and Catholicism. Religious education is not a compulsory subject in Hong Kong schools; Religious schools have autonomy to decide on the design and implementation of religious education curriculum. In this study, the data was collected in three primary schools in Hong Kong. All three schools were government-aided schools with different religious backgrounds (including Taoism, Catholicism and Christianity) and managed by different local religious bodies in Hong Kong. They had independent school subject to carry out religious education in the schools. The study adopted multi methods for data collection. Observation, interview and document review were used. Three teachers and their students (in fourth and fifth grades) were the major research participants. Three selected religious education lessons were used to illustrate the implementation of religious education in classrooms and to understand the teaching of religious education for students’ development. The findings of this study includes: (a) the teachers taught moral values in religious education lessons, e.g., caring, charity and admitting faults; (b) the teachers relied much on religious materials to teach the religious content, doctrine and culture, showing learning about religion; and (c) some teachers used daily life events to link religion and life, showing learning from religion. Based on the empirical data collected in this case study, the paper argues that using the human development model to teach students religious education is a direction for education for all. The human development model provides opportunity for the students to reflect on their own life, linking up with religion, morality and life. It also benefits to the growth and development of all students who are from different religions and even secular. The paper thus contributes to the field of education and religion, highlights religious education as a means for all students’ education and development.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014

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religious education
Hong Kong
Religion
Teaching
student
learning
development model
Taoism
school
Catholicism
teacher
Christianity
learning culture
education
classroom
Buddhism
religious group
education curriculum
teaching practice
morality

Citation

Wong, M.-Y. (2014, March). Teaching religious education for all students: A case study of Hong Kong. Paper presented at the 58th Annual Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Toronto, Ontario.