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Religion in Education: Judith Everington

25 July 11

Held at the University of Warwick, 25th-26th July 2011

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Judith Everington [WRERU, University of Warwick]

"We’re all in this together, the kids and me": Beginning Teachers’ Use of Their Personal Life Knowledge in the RE classroom

Click here to listen to/download the podcast.

Dr Judith Everington is Associate Professor in Religious Education at the University of Warwick, and has been co-director [with Professor Bob Jackson] of the Warwick RE Project, and of the Warwick Life History of RE Teachers Project.

"I personally think that the increasing use of personal life-knowledge in the classroom is a good thing … but I also believe that it can be very dangerous, both for the pupils and for the teachers.”

Abstract: The focus of this paper is on trainee RE teachers and the role that their personal ‘life knowledge’ plays in their planning, teaching and understanding of the role of the RE teacher. Drawing on a two-year qualitative study of English trainee teachers, I will explore the kinds of ‘life knowledge’ that trainees use in the classroom (from insider knowledge of a particular religious tradition to personal knowledge of bereavement and political struggle), the differing ways in which they use this knowledge and why they do so—reflecting different views of the role of the RE teacher and the nature of RE. In the light of concerns about the ‘tyranny of intimacy’, I recognize the dangers of this practice and also trainees’ need to ‘share’, their view that this is crucial to effective RE teaching and their own views on how to avoid the dangers. I argue that in the selection of trainee teachers it is important to consider ‘life knowledge’ as well as academic subject knowledge, but that it is also important to consider that teacher trainers should develop and provide opportunities for beginning teachers to explore the personal and professional issues raised by the use of their ‘life knowledge’ and collaborate in the development of guidelines for doing so.

Report and podcasts compiled by Norman Winter. Abstract taken from the conference programme. Recordings of the symposium sessions are substantially complete, but may have been edited in small ways for technical and other reasons.

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