Adsense

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

RELIGION AND EDUCATION: IS THERE ANY COMMON GROUND?


Religion is all too often presented as incompatible with good educational values. Part of my 2004 research thesis reviewed the literature of religious education (RE) for evidence of an overlap in values.

Among the questions briefly covered: 
  • How has RE developed in Britain, and what does it seek to achieve? 
  • What motivates people to teach and learn about religion?
  • Is religious teaching necessarily indoctrination?
  • How do different teaching and learning styles affect the picture?
  • How can we assess growth in religious understanding?
The appendices contain expanded versions of most of the lists and explanations.



INTRODUCTION

It is axiomatic that in Britain at least, religious nurture and education are rooted in distinct epistemological systems. As Hull observes:

“To find a common ground in Christian faith for both nurture and education, without destroying the distinction between the processes or the unity of the faith, is the major theoretical problem confronting the churches in their dialogue with modern education. What we are dealing with here is thus not a semantic problem but a conceptual problem.”                                                                                                                                                 (Hull, 1984, p.39)

As part of my research thesis, “Can Religious Education and Christian Formation Co-Incide” (University of Brighton School of Education, 2004), I undertook a search for evidence of the kind of common ground between religious nurture and education proper that Hull regards as “the major theoretical problem confronting the churches in their dialogue with modern education” (Ibid.)

The literature review that formed the infrastructure for this project is appended here with its original chapter and section numbering.



CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.0:  Introduction and Overview

A central theme in this enquiry is the extent to which a programme of instruction in a confessional context – i.e. a catechetical[1] programme – can fulfil the goals of religious education (RE). However, there are sharp differences of opinion on what the goals of catechesis and RE should be, and while some theorists like Warren (1983, p.379) argue for “a more deliberate convergence”, others regard them as fundamentally incompatible.

The purpose of this literature review is thus not so much to clarify the distinction between catechesis and RE – that has been thoroughly argued from all angles – but rather to substantiate a hypothesis that there is at least some common ground, to search for language that can mediate a dialogue between them, and finally to suggest criteria for assessing the educational validity of a specific programme.

The first two sections (2.1 & 2.2) comprise a survey of approaches to RE in search of common ground between religious and educational concerns. Section 2.3 attempts to establish guidelines as to what constitutes ‘indoctrination’. Sections 2.4 - 2.6 deal with adult religious education, focusing respectively on motives, evaluation, and the needs and attributes of adult learners. Finally, section 2.7 draws some conclusions and suggests five principles or criteria for assessing the educational validity of a given programme of religious instruction.

2.1:  Historical Trends in English Religious Education

Copley (1997) reviews the history of RE in England and Wales since the Education Act of 1944, showing that it was only with the proliferation of new British faith communities in the early 1970’s that RE aspired to be anything more than a loose package of religious, national and moral precepts. From that point on, RE developed quickly and of necessity into a coherent educational discipline aimed at promoting mutual understanding between faith communities. However, under the guidance of a series of influential texts, e.g. Smart (1968), Grimmitt (1974), it developed a rigidly descriptive methodology in which any exposure to spiritual experience or recommendation of a specific faith or world-view was liable to be condemned as indoctrination.
This value-free, phenomenological approach to RE prevailed for most of the seventies and eighties, but there were dissenting voices even then, notably Holley (1978), Hulmes (1979) and Hay (1985). For Holley, religious understanding “in breadth and depth” is vital because there is a non-physical, non-rational, and dynamic dimension “necessarily rooted in and directly concerned with the mysterious in life” in which all need to be stimulated to participate (Holley, 1978, p. 50). Hulmes observed that efforts to be 'neutral', regardless of good intentions on the part of the teacher, seem to be doomed to become initiations into agnosticism (Hulmes, 1979). And Hay advocated the use of RE to raise awareness of personal experiences that could be classified as religious but are essentially spiritual, over against the “hermeneutic of suspicion”[2] that predisposes our culture to interpret experience in rigidly secular terms (Hay, 1985, pp. 141-142).
By the late eighties such concerns had begun to enter the mainstream. There remains a tendency on the part of educationalists to see different faiths as essentially fungible expressions of a universal experience, but there has been a growing respect for the distinctiveness and coherence of each faith in its own cultural context. There is also a broad agreement, as stated in one agreed syllabus for RE, that the learner needs to participate in the experience of a faith community in order to understand what a commitment to that faith might mean for his/her own developing beliefs and values (East Sussex County Council, 1993).

2.2:  Models of Religious Education 

Wickett (1991) describes a number of models of adult education commonly encountered in a Christian context. A selective overview of five of these models follows, and each is described at greater length in Appendix A:

a)   The Traditional or Andragogical Model
Andragogy was defined as recently as the early 1980’s, but in essence it is an adult version of the traditional pedagogical learning model. It remains the most commonly recognised form of adult education in both religious and secular spheres (Wickett, 1991, p.45)… However, it shows limited potential as a bridge between the religious and educational disciplines, being geared like pedagogy to the vertical transmission of knowledge. (Knowles, 1983; Knowles 1980 cited in Wickett 1991, pp.45‑51.)

b)   The “Tip of the Iceberg” Model
In this approach, a small amount of shared learning as a group is counterbalanced by a larger weight of individual research outside the classroom. Its key strength is an emphasis on reflective learning that orients it to personal growth and the development of a mature and coherent world-view – whether religious or non-religious in inspiration. (Tough 1979; cited in Wickett 1991, p. 111.)

c)   The Interdependent Group
This approach helps individual learners work towards personal goals within a mutually supportive group structure. A balance between authority and independence is found in an interdependence that is strongly formative of both community and personal autonomy – a juxtaposition found in few places outside the religious domain. (Wickett, 1991, p. 119; citing personal correspondence with V. Griffin.)

d)   The ‘Scandinavian’ Study Circle
This most democratic of all learning strategies consists of a formally constituted group or cell under the chairmanship of a non-teaching moderator. Study circles, like andragogy, tend to focus on life experience rather than subject-centred learning, but unlike andragogy they tend to develop a very firm agenda for social, political and/or religious activism – indeed the distinctions between religious and other ideological motives may be quite blurred. (Oliver 1987; cited in Wickett 1991, p. 129.)

e)   A Freirian Model: ‘Pedagogy’ for Adult Religious Education
The Brazilian educationalist Paolo Freire developed pioneering adult literacy programmes, rooted in the liberation theologies of Gutiérrez, Boff and others, and designed to change society by educating and mobilising the faith community as a whole. His learning models have thus emerged from communities in which faith, education and the struggle for dignity are intimately related to one another, and provide persuasive evidence that religion and education can live a complementary and even interrelated existence. (Freire 1970, cited in Wickett 1991, p. 138; Groome, 1980, pp. 207-209.)

It will be seen that I have selected from Wickett’s survey, in addition to the traditional approach,  two models (Iceberg & Interdependent) that originated in the academic world but address typically religious themes, and two (Study Circle & Freirian) which originated in Christian communities but are geared to bringing about positive change in the person and society. I believe that taken together these models not only refute a null hypothesis that “there is no possible common ground between religion and education”, but offer clues to the kind of language that might mediate between them.

The recurring theme in all four of the non-traditional models – variously expressed in the language of mature world-view, community and autonomy, activism for change, and liberation – is the kind of concurrence in personal and societal development that religion and education each claim to foster. The work of Freire alone is enough to show that Christian teaching can be educational in the richest sense of the word; and in the wider language of reform and liberation some, like Whitehead, have found hope of a synthesis in which all education is in a sense religious[3] and religion in turn can be truly educational.

A leading modern Whiteheadian, Dwayne Huebner, has continued his mentor’s search for a mutually affirmative but challenging linguistic relationship between religion and education, and he may be allowed the final word on this theme:

“The otherness that informs and accompanies education is the absolute Otherness, the transcendent Other . . . Education is the lure of the transcendent.  . . .  Education is the openness to a future beyond all futures. Education is the protest against present forms that they may be re-formed and transformed. Education is the consciousness that we live in time pulled by the inexorable Otherness that brings judgement and hope to the forms of life which are but vessels of the present experience. To interpret the changingness of human life as ‘learning’ . . . is a paltry response to humankind’s participation in the Divine or the Eternal.”
(Huebner, 1985, p.463)

2.3:  What is Indoctrination?

Chazan (1983) notes that RE has been regarded by many educationalists as the paradigmatic case of indoctrinating activity. In order to evaluate this common perception it is necessary to ask (i) what constitutes indoctrination, and (ii) whether in the light of such reasoning RE is intrinsically indoctrinatory.

Chazan describes three theories of indoctrination, a more detailed account of each of which is given in Appendix B:

1.    The Method argument holds that indoctrination is the transmission of ideas by methods aimed at guaranteeing their acceptance.

2.    The Content argument holds that indoctrination is implicated in teaching any integrated world-view or system of belief about the basic issues of human existence, including religion, politics or morality.

3.    The Intention argument holds that indoctrination is rooted in the intention to implant unshakeable beliefs or to inhibit the ability of people to think for themselves.

The debate between supporters of these three positions has been quite polarised, but according to Chazan (pp. 420-423) it is in juxtaposition that they provide the most balanced understanding:

·      There is always the potential for indoctrination in the communication of those comprehensive belief systems that become true, valid or acceptable only when freely accepted by a thinking individual;
·      indoctrination nonetheless requires an intention to transmit such ideas in a way that thwarts or represses such rational acceptance;
·      such a combination of intention and content implies certain methods that have proven effective in thwarting free will, but which merely reflect an intention to secure unthinking acceptance.

This framework helps clarify why topics like religion, politics and morality are so hard to disentangle from indoctrination, but it supports a verdict that neither religious content nor insensitive methods can justify charges of indoctrination in the absence of an intention to override or subvert the learner’s free will.


2.4:  Motives for Adult Religious Education

Why Learn Religion?
Wickett (1991, pp. 11-17) identifies five main adult learner types which will be used in classifying observation and interview data, and a paragraph on each of these is provided in Appendix C:

·      Developing skills for ministry;
·      Learning for personal growth;
·      Learning for social change;
·      Learning for social reasons;
·      Learning for the sake of learning.

Why teach Religion?
In addition to learner types, it is important to consider the motives of teachers or facilitators. The following four aims are abstracted from a fuller discussion by Andrew Wright (Wright, 1993, pp.24-25); they are clearly neither exhaustive nor mutually exclusive, but allowing for nuances they cover most religious teaching:

·      To provide the social “glue” to hold society together in a moral consensus.
·      To promote deeper understanding and respect between faith communities.
·      To impart concrete beliefs, values or norms.
·      To socialise individuals within a community and pass on its traditions.

2.5:  Evaluation in Adult Religious Education

Wickett notes that evaluation is of critical importance to any educational programme; quite apart from its diagnostic role in relation to the individual learner, it provides the basis for significant decisions about programme development and change (Wickett, 1991, p. 66).

Internally, my main concern will be to ascertain whether information on individual learning outcomes is being fed back into a continuing process of programme evaluation. Externally, however, I will need some objective criteria with which to assess the learning outcomes for individual participants, and I propose to use the following developmental models where appropriate:

a)    Stages of Faith Development (Fowler);
b)    Stages of Critical Thinking Growth (Perry);
c)    The Modified Engel Scale.

a)  Fowler’s Stages of Faith Development

James W. Fowler (1981; 1976 cited in Groome 1980 pp. 66-73) observed that the way in which an individual expresses his/her faith tends to follow a set pattern regardless of the specific religious context. He identified six stages of faith development, of which stages 3 to 6 (each described in greater detail in Appendix D) would normally relate to adult experience:
Stage 3. Synthetic-conventional faith: Usually beginning at about secondary school age, this stage marks a growing independence of parental or familial values but a largely uncritical acceptance of external authorities (conventional) and a compartmentalised response to the expectations of different peer groups (synthetic).
Stage 4. Individuative-reflective faith: At this stage, an individual begins to develop an autonomous, integrated identity and to choose companions to match. It implies greater freedom, but also a more acute personal responsibility for decisions and choices.
Stage 5. Conjunctive faith: At this stage, unusual before mid-life, “one’s own system is seen as porous and incomplete even in the midst of strong commitment to it.  . . . One’s symbols are looked to and affirmed, but also ‘seen through’ to the possibility beyond them.” (Groome, 1980, p.72).
Stage 6. Universalizing faith: This stage is the hardest to describe objectively, but Fowler suggests in rather lyrical language that by this point self-awareness and self-interest are no longer to be paramount for the individual – that there is a transcendent sense of oneness with God and humankind.
The difficulties faced by Fowler in describing this final stage are a clue to the system’s chief limitation: it can only be validated by personal experience; the stages beyond have be taken on testimony and trust. Nevertheless, his work can provide a kind of road map with which to diagnose a pupil’s or even one’s own position and developmental needs.

b)  Perry’s Stages of Critical Thinking Growth

Various psychologists and educationalists have attempted to build on the pioneering work of Piaget and Vygotsky in the sphere of cognitive development. Perry (1981) describes epistemological positions grouped into four broad stages of cognitive development which are summarised here and amplified in Appendix E:

Stage 1. Dualism: The most primitive phase of knowing divides meaning into two clearly defined realms: Right vs. Wrong, Us vs. Them, etc. This mode of knowing tends to imply the existence of a Right Answer to every question and to attribute authority to those who appear to hold the answers (cf. Fowler’s conventional faith).

Stage 2. Multiplicity: The inevitable realisation that there are some areas in which the right answers cannot (yet) be known splits the learner’s world into two domains: (i) a zone of certainty in which apparently competent authorities can still provide concrete answers; and (b) a domain of indifference in which it is believed that each person’s intuitive answers are valid for him/her.

Stage 3. Contextualised Knowing: At this stage the learner begins to recognise recurring strategies in the way more experienced thinkers approach areas of uncertainty, e.g. designing experiments, weighing evidence, comparing interpretations. The climax of this phase is an awareness of the extent to which interpretation is governed by context (cf. Fowler’s synthetic faith).

Stage 4. Committed Knowing: At the summit of Perry’s scheme is the ability to commit oneself to opinions and ideologies with a sober awareness of one’s own fallibility and an acceptance of others' right to their own interpretations (cf. Fowler’s conjunctive faith).

Perry’s stages of development are rather artificial – little more than arbitrary points on a continuum of development – and were based purely on research among Harvard undergraduates. However, in classifying the epistemologies on which logical thought is based they offer in embryonic form a non-religious language for discussing faith issues.

c)  The Modified Engel Scale

The Engel Scale was developed in its classic form c.1973 by Dr. James Engel, then director of the Billy Graham graduate programme in communications at Wheaton College, Illinois. It has been modified several times by his successors, and one widely used version is shown in Appendix F (Hazelden, 2001).

This tool needs to be used with sensitivity because it is based on an understanding of Christian mentorship that some would regard as manipulative or indoctrinatory—it’s critical Tier 0 (“Repentance and faith”) can reflect an unquestioning propositional acceptance whose closest affinities are with Fowler’s stage 3 (conventional-synthetic) faith. However, it will be useful in assessing the effectiveness of the DC course from a confessional viewpoint since it is rooted in the same evangelical-revivalist tradition.

2.6:  The Needs and Attributes of Adult Learners

…. As author of the andragogical model….Knowles (1983, pp. 55-63) describes four key characteristics of adult learners:

a)    A characteristic self-concept: Adults generally perceive themselves as do-ers rather than learners, and this shapes the way they expect others to relate to them in the family, the workplace, and the learning environment.

b)    An accumulating body of experience. Experience provides an ever-growing resource for both learning and mutual instruction, and is instrumental in defining the individual.

c)    Receptivity oriented to social roles. Adults are most receptive to the kind of learning that will help them develop not so much in physical or psychological maturity but in their social roles.

d)    A time perspective geared to the immediate application of knowledge. Most adults perceive learning as a means of solving immediate life problems, and study units should similarly focus on practical problems rather than the logical development of subject matter.

These characteristics….are analysed in greater detail in Appendix G.

2.7:  Implications for the Proposed Enquiry

The aims of this review have been to substantiate a hypothesis that there some common ground between RE and catechesis, to search for language that can mediate a dialogue between them, and finally to suggest criteria for assessing the educational validity of a specific programme.

I believe I have refuted the null hypothesis that there is no such common ground and established that the categories of personal and social reform can provide challenging but appropriate objectives for both catechism and religious education. It remains to suggest a set of practical criteria by which to assess the educational validity of….programmes with an evangelistic-formative priority.

Watson (1992) brings together a collection of intelligent and sensitive essays that offers (according to the cover notes) “some real hope of reconciliation between the so-called confessional and phenomenological views of RE”, and three of these (Wilson, Nichols and Hulmes) have been helpful in formulating appropriate principles for a course that aspires to straddle the epistemological divide between them:

·      Principle 1: Objectivity
It should help learners become well-informed, understanding and reasonable in the sphere of religion (Wilson, 1992, p. 11).

·      Principle 2: Openness
It should awaken them to the reality of a spiritual dimension to life (Nichols, 1992, p.115) and encourage reflection on the significance, if any, of certain beliefs for their own developing beliefs and values (East Sussex SACRE).

·      Principle 3: Protection
It should not project a false veneer of neutrality, but should avoid indoctrination or persuasion. (Wilson, 1992, pp. 17-18; Hulmes 1992, 1997; Hay, 1985.)

·      Principle 4: Respect for Diversity
It should promote respect for other faith communities (Consensus view).

·      Principle 5: Professionalism
It should use appropriate learning models and teaching methods, and carry out a systematic evaluation of individual learning experiences as an aid to continuing programme development (Educational ‘best practice’).

These principles nos. 1 – 5 will guide my choice of research methods, shape the questions I ask and provide a thematic framework for the presentation of results.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

ALEXANDER, H.A. (2003) “Education as spiritual critique: Dwayne Huebner’s ‘Lure of the Transcendent’”, Journal of Curriculum Studies, vol. 35, no. 2.

ASTLEY, J., Ed. (2000) Learning In the Way: Research and Reflection on Adult Christian Education Leominster, Gracewing.

Bailey, K. D. 1978 Methods of Social Research in Cohen, L., Manion, L. and Morrison, K. (2000) Research Methods in Education 5th Ed. London, RoutledgeFalmer.

BERKHOF, L. (1938) A Summary of Christian Doctrine Edinburgh, Banner of Truth Trust

BERKHOF, L. (1958) Systematic Theology Carlisle PA, Banner of Truth Trust.

BUCKLER, G. (1998) Planning to Learn: Adult Christian Education in the Local Church Leominster, Gracewing.

CHAZAN, B. (1983) “ ‘Indoctrination’ and Religious Education” in Source Book for Modern Catechetics (vol. 1) Ed. Warren, M., Winona MN, Saint Mary’s Press.

COHEN, L., MANION, L. and MORRISON, K. (2000) Research Methods in Education 5th Ed. London, RoutledgeFalmer.

COOLING, T. (2002) “Commitment and indoctrination: a dilemma for Religious Education?” in Issues in Religious Education Ed. Broadbent, L. and Brown, A., London, RoutledgeFalmer.

COPLEY,T. (1997) Teaching Religion: Fifty Years of Religious Education in England and Wales Exeter, University of Exeter Press.

Cremin, L. 1977 Traditions of American Education in Groome, T.H. (1980) Christian Religious Education: Sharing Our Story and Vision San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

CROTTY, R. and WURST, S. (1998) Religious Education in a Religiously Pluralist Society [online]  Available HTTP://www.aare.edu.au/98pap/cro98119.htm

Denzin, N.K. and Lincoln, Y.S. 1994 Handbook of Qualitative Research in Mason, J. (2002) Qualitative Researching 2nd Ed. London, Sage Publications.

East Sussex County Council (1993) Religious Education in the Basic Curriculum Lewes, East Sussex County Council.

Fowler, J.W. 1976 Stages in Faith: The Structural-Developmental Approach in Groome, T.H. (1980) Christian Religious Education: Sharing Our Story and Vision San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

FOWLER, J.W. (1981) Stages of Faith: The Psychology of Human Development and the Quest for Meaning New York, Harper & Row.

Freire, P. 1970 Pedagogy of the Oppressed in Wickett, R.E.Y. (1991) Models of Adult Religious Education Practice Birmingham AL, Religious Education Press.

GALLAGHER, J. (1988) Our Schools and Our Faith London, Collins Liturgical Publications.

GRIMMITT, M. (1974) What Can I Do In RE? Great Wakering, Mayhew-McCrimmon

GROOME, T.H. (1980) Christian Religious Education: Sharing Our Story and Vision San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

GROOME, T.H. and HORELL, H. D., Ed. (2003) Horizons & Hopes: The Future of Religious Education Mahwah NJ; Paulist Press

HAY, D. (1985) “Suspicion of the Spiritual: Teaching Religion in a World of Secular Experience”, British Journal of Religious Education, Vol. 7, no. 3.

HAZELDEN, P. (2001) The Modified Engel Scale: Working with God in Evangelism [online]  Available
HTTP://www.hazelden.org.uk/pt02/art_pt068_modified_engel_full.htm

HOBSON, P.R. and EDWARDS, J.S. (1999) Religious Education in a Pluralist Society: The Key Philosophical Issues London, Woburn Press.
HOLLEY, R. (1978) Religious Education and Religious Understanding London, outledge and Kegan Paul.
HORNSBY-SMITH, M. (1993) “Gaining Access” in Researching Social Life, Ed. Gilbert, N., London, Sage Publications.

Houle, C.O. 1961 The Enquiring Mind: A study of the adult who continues to learn in Wickett, R.E.Y. (1991) Models of Adult Religious Education Practice Birmingham AL, Religious Education Press.

HUEBNER, D. (1985) “Religious metaphors in the language of education”, Religious Education, vol. 80, no.3.

HULL, J.M. (1984) Studies in Religion & Education Lewes, The Falmer Press.

HULL, J.M. (1997) Utopian Whispers: Moral, Religious And Spiritual Values In Schools London, Religious and Moral Education Press.

HULL, J.M. (2002) “Religion and Terror in the Modern World: The Educational Responsibility of the Church” (a summary of the Church and School Lecture 2002, sponsored by the Church of Scotland Committee on Education) [online]

HULMES, E. (1979) Commitment and Neutrality in Religious Education London, Geoffrey Chapman.

HULMES, E. (1992) “Unity and Diversity: The Search for Common Identity” in Priorities in Religious Education: A Model for the 1990s and Beyond, Ed. Watson, B., London, The Falmer Press.

Knowles, M. 1980 The Modern Practice of Adult Education: From Pedagogy to Andragogy in Wickett, R.E.Y. (1991) Models of Adult Religious Education Practice Birmingham AL, Religious Education Press.

KNOWLES, M. (1983) “Andragogy: An Emerging Technology for Adult Learning” in Adult Learning and Education, Ed. Tight, M., Beckenham, Croom Helm.

KRAFT, C.H. (1989) Christianity with Power: Your Worldview and Your Experience of the Supernatural Ann Arbor MI, Servant Publications.

KÜNG, H. (1992) Credo: The Apostles’ Creed Explained for Today London, SCM Press.

Kvale, S. 1996 Interviews in Cohen, L., Manion, L. AND Morrison, K. (2000) Research Methods in Education 5th Ed. London, RoutledgeFalmer.

MARSHALL, C. and ROSSMAN, G.B. (1995) Designing Qualitative Research 2nd Ed. London, Sage Publications.

MASON, J. (2002) Qualitative Researching 2nd Ed. London, Sage Publications.

MCCLOSKEY, M. (1985) Tell It Often – Tell It Well: Making the Most of Witnessing Opportunities San Bernardino CA, Here’s Life Publications.

NICHOLS, K. (1992) “Roots in Religious Education” in Priorities in Religious Education: A Model for the 1990s and Beyond, Ed. Watson, B., London, The Falmer Press.

O’DONOGHUE, J. (1998) Eternal Echoes: Exploring Our Hunger to Belong London, Bantam.

Oliver, L.P. 1987 Study Circles: Coming Together for Personal Growth and Social Change in Wickett, R.E.Y. (1991) Models of Adult Religious Education Practice Birmingham AL, Religious Education Press.

PARSHALL, P. (1980) New Paths in Muslim Evangelism Grand Rapids MI, Baker Books.

PERRY, W.G. (1981) “Cognitive and Ethical Growth: The Making of Meaning” in The Modern American College: Responding to the New Realities of Diverse Students and a Changing Society, Ed. Chickering, A. and associates, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

PRIESTLEY, J. (1992) “Whitehead Revisited – Religion and Education: An Organic Whole” in Priorities in Religious Education: A Model for the 1990s and Beyond, Ed. Watson, B., London, The Falmer Press.

PRING, R. (2000) Philosophy of Educational Research New York, Continuum.

RICOEUR, P. (1970) Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation New Haven CT, Yale University Press.

Schatzmann, L. and Strauss, A. 1973 Field research: Strategies for a natural sociology in Marshall, C. and Rossman, G.B. (1995) Designing Qualitative Research 2nd Ed. London, Sage Publications.

SLEE, N. (1992) “‘Heaven in Ordinarie’: The Imagination, Spirituality and the Arts in Religious Education” in Priorities in Religious Education: A Model for the 1990s and Beyond, Ed. Watson, B., London, The Falmer Press.

SMART, N. (1968) Secular Education and the Logic of Religion London, Faber & Faber.

SMART, N. (1977) Background to the Long Search London, British Broadcasting Corporation.

STRAUSS, A. and CORBIN, J. (1990) Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques Newbury Park CA, Sage Publications.

THOMAS, G. L. (1999) Seeking the Face of God Eugene OR, Harvest House.

TIGHT, M., Ed. (1983) Adult Learning and Education Beckenham, Croom Helm.

Tough, A. 1967 Why Adults Learn in Wickett, R.E.Y. (1991) Models of Adult Religious Education Practice Birmingham AL, Religious Education Press.

Tough, A. 1979 The Adult’s Learning Projects: A Fresh Approach to Theory and Practice in Adult Learning 2nd Ed. in Wickett, R.E.Y. (1991) Models of Adult Religious Education Practice Birmingham AL, Religious Education Press.

TRAVIS, J. (1999) “From C1 to C6, Comparing approaches used in the Muslim world”, International YWAMer, Oct. 1999 – Jan 2000, p. 4.
(Original source credited as Evangelical Missions Quarterly, issue not specified.)

VARDY, P. (2002) “Is Religious Education and ethical and moral debate a contradiction?” in Issues in Religious Education Ed. Broadbent, L. and Brown, A., London, RoutledgeFalmer.

WARREN, M., Ed. (1983) Source Book for Modern Catechetics (vol. 1) Winona MN, Saint Mary’s Press.

WATSON, B., Ed. (1992) Priorities in Religious Education: A Model for the 1990s and Beyond  London, The Falmer Press.

WATSON, D. (1976) I Believe in Evangelism London, Hodder and Stoughton.

WELZ, F. (2000) Identity and Alterity in Sociological Perspective [online]
Available HTTP://www.zmk.uni-freiburg.de/Online_Texts/Welz_Identity.pdf

Whitehead, A. N. 1970 The Aims of Education in Priestley, J. (1992) “Whitehead Revisited – Religion and Education: An Organic Whole” in Priorities in Religious Education: A Model for the 1990s and Beyond, Ed. Watson, B., London, The Falmer Press.

WICKETT, R.E.Y. (1991) Models of Adult Religious Education Practice Birmingham AL, Religious Education Press.

WILSON, J. (1992) “First Steps in Religious Education” in Priorities in Religious Education: A Model for the 1990s and Beyond, Ed. Watson, B., London, The Falmer Press.

WING, K.A. (1997) “Adult Faith Development: Current Thinking” in Recent Research on Adult Development [online] Available: http://www.hope.edu/academic/psychology/335/webrep/faithdev.html

WRAGG, E.C. (1994) An Introduction to Classroom Observation London, Routledge.

WRIGHT, A. (1993) Religious Education in the Secondary School: Prospects for Religious Literacy London, David Fulton Publishers.

WRIGHT, A. (1998) Spiritual Pedagogy: A survey, critique and reconstruction of contemporary spiritual education in England and Wales Abingdon, Culham College Institute.




















APPENDIX A

SOME MODELS OF ADULT RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
Expanded description referred to in section 2.2 (after Wickett, 1991)

The Traditional or Andragogical Model
Andragogy was defined in its modern form as recently as the early 1980’s, but in essence it is a version of the traditional pedagogical learning model. It is the most commonly recognised of all approaches to adult education in both religious and secular circles (Wickett, 1991, p.45), perhaps because many adult educators are school-teachers by present or former profession. Classroom-based and teacher-centred, it has been adapted to the needs and strengths of the adult learner but inherits most of its strengths and weaknesses from the pedagogical model on which it is based. (Knowles, 1983; Knowles 1980 cited in Wickett 1991, pp. 45-51.)

The andragogical model is thus strong on identifying needs, defining objectives, programme design and evaluation. However, it is firmly rooted in the more rigidly structured society of the mid-20th century, and while it adheres to a problem-centred methodology that appeals to many adults it offers little to facilitate the progress from dependence to self-directedness and intellectual autonomy that is a key goal of all adult learning.

These limitations are all the more exposed when the aim is spiritual or moral development rather than cognitive knowledge. For a number of practical reasons the format of “Discovering Christianity” is largely based on the andragogical model, but as a bridge between the religious and educational disciplines  – perhaps because it is geared to the vertical transmission of cognitive knowledge – andragogy shows limited potential.



The “Tip of the Iceberg” Model
In this less traditional approach, a small amount of shared learning as a group is counterbalanced by a larger weight of individual specialisation outside. It is thus incompatible with the present aims of “Discovering Christianity”, but its key strength is an emphasis on reflective learning that clearly orientates it to personal growth and change – Wickett notes that spiritual and religious issues often arise spontaneously in this kind of group. (Tough 1979; cited in Wickett 1991, p. 111.)

This model is thus geared to the development of a mature and coherent world-view, and its validity as a learning tool is independent of whether such a worldview is primarily religious or non-religious. Indeed, my own experience from many years as a Christian and a banker confirms that developmental language is highly fungible: that business managers use explicitly evangelistic concepts like mission, message, promise and belief as often as churchmen talk of corporate goals, SWOT analysis and self-actualisation.

The Interdependent Group
This approach is designed to facilitate working together to meet individual goals within a mutually supportive group structure. It thus marks a genuinely democratic move away from authority structures while moderating the demands it places on the confidence and commitment of the individual learner – the balance between extremes of authority and independence is found in interdependence. (Wickett, 1991, p. 119; citing personal correspondence with V. Griffin.)

The beauty if this approach is that learners who initially lack confidence in their ability to meet individual objectives can be interactively led towards valuing their own resources and experience. It can equally lead the abrasive individualist into a more humble appreciation of the value others can bring. This strategy is incompatible with the main objectives of “Discovering Christianity”, but it is strongly formative of community and personal autonomy – a precious juxtaposition of outcomes that is found in few places outside the religious domain.
The Scandinavian Study Circle
The study circle, which originated in Danish churches in the 19th century, is the most classically democratic of all learning strategies, involving a formally constituted group of adults making collective and binding decisions on learning priorities with the help of a non-teaching moderator. (Oliver 1987; cited in Wickett 1991, p. 129.)

Study circles, like andragogy, tend to focus on life experience rather than subject-centred learning, but unlike andragogy they tend to develop a strong internal cohesion and a very firm agenda for social action. It is thus a model not for communicating fundamentals like “Discovering Christianity”, but for activists in the religious or political domain who wish to act in concert to effect changes in the world. It is thus provides at very least a thematic link between religious and social activism (whose goals and methods are often hard to distinguish in practice).

A Freirian Model: ‘Pedagogy’ for Adult Religious Education
The Brazilian educationalist Paolo Freire developed pioneering adult literacy programmes rooted in the liberation theologies of Gutiérrez, Boff and others, designed to change society by educating and mobilising the faith community as a whole. Emerging from communities in which faith, education and the struggle for dignity are intimately related to one another, his work provides the most conclusive evidence yet that religion and education can live an interrelated and complementary existence. Indeed, they raise a question as to whether the supposed dichotomy between them is the product of a particular cultural disposition rather than the expression of some deeper epistemological distinction. (Freire 1970 cited in Wickett 1991 p. 138; Groome, 1980, pp. 207-209.)



.


APPENDIX B

THE ARGUMENTS FOR INDOCTRINATION
Expanded description referred to in section 2.3 (after Chazan, 1983)

The Method argument holds that indoctrination is the transmission of ideas by undesirable methods. What is undesirable about these methods is that they are aimed at guaranteeing acceptance of certain beliefs, either by excluding alternatives or by wrapping them up in such a way as to ensure their rejection. Techniques include stilted, incomplete or one-sided arguments, deliberate falsification or suppression of evidence, charisma, repetition, drilling, and sometimes physical or psychological brutality.

Opponents of the method argument protest that such methods are not as distinctive as they might appear at first sight. In fact all use of educational sources is selective; techniques that appear indoctrinatory may arise from mere incompetence. And force does not change thinking; someone may be persuaded to affirm a proposition but not to believe it. The method argument thus fails ultimately because it does not really distinguish indoctrination from other activities and motives.

The Content argument holds that indoctrination is defined by undesirable content – what is taught rather than how it is taught. Proponents of this theory claim that indoctrination consists in teaching (i) uncertain or speculative beliefs for which there is insufficient evidence to satisfy a sane and sensible person, or (ii) integrated systems of belief about basic issues of human existence and world-view, e.g. religion, politics or morality.

Opponents of this theory point out that it depends on a fixed idea of what is rational and verifiable; in other words, it reflects a rigidly materialistic epistemology that is itself an expression of unwavering faith in an unverifiable hypothesis. 

The Intention argument holds that what makes indoctrination is not method or content, but the intention to implant unshakeable beliefs or to inhibit the ability of people to think for themselves. There is a certain undeniable logic to this theory, since it is generally agreed that the purpose of education is to foster autonomous thought, whereas the point of indoctrination is to subordinate some people to the thinking of others.

However, the intention theory applies this logic in a naïve and simplistic way. Many dimensions of the learning experience should be open to even a child’s autonomous judgement, but there are some obvious areas (Chazan cites traffic rules, hygiene and eating habits) where society cannot afford for each individual to make up his or her own mind. And there are other more subtle areas where the only alternative to a kind of benign indoctrination is exposure to the arbitrary whims of immature fancy and peer group pressure that are themselves obstructive to personal development.

The debate between supporters of these three positions has been quite polarised, but according to Chazan (pp. 420-423) it is in juxtaposition that they provide the most balanced understanding:

·      There is always the potential for indoctrination in the communication of those comprehensive belief systems that become true, valid or acceptable only when freely accepted by a thinking individual;

·      indoctrination nonetheless requires an intention to transmit such ideas in a way that thwarts or represses such rational acceptance;

·      such a combination of intention and content implies certain methods that have proven effective in thwarting free will, but which merely reflect an intention to secure unthinking acceptance.

This framework helps clarify why topics like religion, politics and morality are so hard to disentangle from indoctrination, but it supports a verdict that neither religious content nor insensitive methods can justify charges of indoctrination in the absence of an intention to override or subvert the learner’s free will.


APPENDIX C

LEARNER TYPES IN ADULT RELIGIOUS EDUCATION
Expanded description referred to in section 2.4 (after Wickett, 1991)

a)   Developing skills for ministry
This category would include not only those who are working towards some recognised ecclesiastical order or qualification, but all those who, in response to their experience of the divine, are equipping themselves for some form of active service, e.g. in teaching, the mission field, or ministries of intercession.

b)   Learning for personal growth
The motivation to seek spiritual, emotional or intellectual growth is particularly strong at certain points in life. For this kind of learner the symbolic dimensions of the learning experience may be at least as valuable as the taught content; the traditional model is far from being the ideal vehicle, but it is tolerable provided it gives facilitators the space to help individuals clarify how they wish to grow and change.

c)   Learning for social change
As noted in the discussion of educational models, many choose to learn in order to effect change and come together because more can be achieved as a group. The traditional learning model is rooted in a past status quo and quite powerless as a medium for external change, but this is beyond the present aims of “Discovering Christianity”.

d)   Learning for social reasons
Many participation in learning activities in the hope of forming closer relationships with others, and sometimes with a specific other in mind. This often seems a self-centred rationale to facilitators and co-learners, but it is owed their respect. Social objectives are usually valid in the learner’s own mind, they are normally combined (according to Tough 1967; cited in Wickett 1991 p.15) with other reasons which may be at least as important, and with the right encouragement the nature of the initial impulse need not stand in the way of a positive learning experience.

e)   Learning for the sake of learning
Learning with no particular goal in mind often brings a strong sense of fulfilment in itself. The “Enquiring Mind” (first documented by Houle 1961; cited in ibid.) is generally highly motivated and enthusiastic, and often works well in a traditional, didactic learning environment. It can however present the facilitator with problems in maintaining focus and a clear sense of direction.


APPENDIX D

FOWLER’S STAGES OF FAITH DEVELOPMENT

Expanded description referred to in section 2.5

James W. Fowler (1981; 1976 cited in Groome 1980 pp. 66-73) observed that the way in which an individual expresses his/her faith tends to follow a set pattern regardless of the specific religious context. He identified six stages of faith development, each of which is unlikely to be reached before a certain age, and each of which may represent the pinnacle of any individual’s spiritual journey. A curious but perhaps predictable aspect of Fowler’s work is that from the viewpoint of each stage of development his description of the earlier stages seems self-validating. Understandably, however, his description of later stages than our own may look fanciful or even apostatic; as Groome notes, “the transition from one to another can be protracted and painful, requiring ‘relinquishment and reconstruction’.” (Groome, 1980, p.69). This suggests that credence in his system will always be an act of faith for many, but it does offer an effective psycho-spiritual synthesis on which no one has significantly improved.

Adult development is covered by stages 3 to 6 of Fowler’s scheme:
Stage 3: Synthetic-conventional faith
Usually beginning at about secondary school age, this stage marks a growing independence of parental or familial values, but a relatively uncritical acceptance of peer group attitudes. It is thus “conventional” in its submission to the expectations of respected others; it is “synthetic” in that the conflicts that arise between the expectations of different groups tend to be dealt with by compartmentalising life into a number of theatres, each with its own companionships, language and responses. Views and beliefs at this stage are often stereotyped and rule-bound (Wing, 1997), and submissive to external authority in terms of spirituality and religion as well as social life. This is typically teenaged social behaviour, but Groome notes that as far as religion is concerned it can last well into adulthood. Indeed many never develop beyond it, and it is characteristic of authoritarian religious and political leaders that consciously or otherwise they strive to keep their subjects at this stage of development.
One mark of a truly educational adult programme (church-based or secular) would be to stimulate the kind of internal questioning that would initiate a journey to the next stage of development. Whether the language used be psychological (as in Perry, Appendix E) or social or religious, many of the questions and concomitant changes will be identical.
Stage 4: Individuative-reflective faith
This stage does not usually begin before the late teens; for many it is postponed until their own children begin to grow up or until the time of some mid-life crisis; some never do. It is a critical stage in one’s faith journey, however, because it entails the first assertion of true individuality; indeed it is sometimes triggered by reflection on the “lack of congruence between the self and the various conventional expectations of one’s different ‘groups’.” (Groome, 1980, p.71). At the stage a person wants to find his/her real self rather than being defined by the expectations of others and various external authorities. It implies greater freedom, but also a more acute personal responsibility for making decisions and choices.
This more autonomous form of “faith” (whether religious or non-religious) generates considerable pressure to resolve tension and ambiguities, and this can lead to both anguish and radical changes in life expectations. Fowler lists some of these tensions as “individual v. community; particular v. universal; relative v. absolute; self-fulfilment v. service to others; autonomy v. heteronomy; feeling v. thinking; subjectivity v. objectivity” (cited in Groome, 1980, p.72). The characteristic behaviour in Fowler’s stage 4 is to collapse these potentially creative tensions in favour of one side or the other; Groome notes that it is not unusual for individuals in the early phase of stage 4 to affiliate themselves to some society or community with a strong ideological grounding and a lot of ready-made answers to life’s ambiguities. In other words, the trend is to choose friends appropriate to one’s self-definition, rather than defining oneself by reference to a peer group.
People at this stage are very likely to join a programme like “Discovering Christianity” in the hope of finding both answers about life and others like themselves. A truly educational course would spot people at this stage and attempt a double and in some ways contradictory goal: to help them develop their autonomy, but at the same time to help them avoid the intellectual trap taking refuge from life’s ambiguities in rigid ideological certainties.
Stage 5: Conjunctive faith
This stage is unusual before mid-life, as it is generally informed by reflection on a great deal of life experience. At this point, the earlier strategy of resolving tensions and ambiguities is seen to be ultimately futile; the individual becomes accepting of a life in which there many shades of grey; able sometimes to use these tensions in a truly creative way, and just occasionally to grasp the higher truths that reside in the gaps between one certainty and another. Far from being weakly relativistic, this stage is generally marked by the closest thing yet to true autonomy: a renewed commitment to one’s own position in the spectrum of beliefs and attitudes, accompanied by a receptivity to the greater fullness of truth that may be attained with through dialogue with others in different positions – implying of course a willingness to change as a last resort. Groome puts this luminously:
“One’s own system is seen as porous and incomplete even in the midst of strong commitment to it. Particulars are valued but only because they hold the possibility of the universal. One’s symbols are looked to and affirmed, but also “seen through” to the possibility beyond them.”                                                          (Groome, 1980, p.72)

Stage 6: Universalizing Faith
“When Fowler speaks about stage six, his language becomes somewhat poetic.” (Groome, 1980, p.73). This stage is of all six the most speculative and the hardest to describe objectively. Fowler cites examples like Mother Teresa, but even this is hardly satisfactory; who can know what goes on in the heart and mind of a true mystic?  We can however say that self-awareness and –interest evidently cease to be paramount for the individual; that there is typically a sense of transcendence of the self, or of oneness with God and humankind.
* * *
The difficulties faced by Fowler and his successors in describing this final stage point to the limitation of the system as a whole. The system can only be validated by personal experience; whatever lies ahead of one’s present state of development has to be taken on testimony and trust. It is nevertheless a potentially valuable tool: most people can attest to its broad validity at least as far as they have personally travelled, and for those who are willing to place some trust in the perceptions of others it provides a kind of road map with which to diagnose one’s own position and developmental needs. Finally, it provides an interdisciplinary framework with some milestones and indicators that are useful to a spiritual mentor in discerning both needs and progress.


APPENDIX E

PERRY’S LEVELS OF CRITICAL THINKING GROWTH
Expanded description referred to in section 2.5
Various psychologists and educationalists have attempted to build on the pioneering work of Piaget and Vygotsky in the sphere of cognitive development. The work of William G. Perry, Jr. is not necessarily the most original or profound in its field, but it is particularly useful in the context of this enquiry.
Perry (1981) elaborates a series of four sequential stages in the development of critical thinking, subdivided into nine finer positions. There is something a little artificial about his demarcation lines; they seem to be arbitrary points along a continuum of development, and since they were based on research among Harvard undergraduates they are not necessarily representative of society at large. However, Perry went beyond Piaget’s focus on the development of logical thought and attempted to classify the very epistemologies on which logical thought is based – the most deep-seated beliefs about knowledge, truth and reality. As such he offers the embryo of a non-religious language for discussing issues of faith in which we should expect to find resonances with Fowler’s faith-based developmental model.
Stage 1: Dualism
The most primitive phase of knowing divides meaning into two clearly defined realms, e.g. good vs. bad, right vs. wrong, Us vs. Them. In its early stages at least, it tends to imply the existence of a Right Answer to every question, and to attribute authority to those who appear to hold the answers. In formal epistemological terms this type of thought is positivist-realist, favouring quantitative knowledge over qualitative. There are both learners and teachers in this category, and both tend the treat the classroom as a medium for the teacher to pass on the body of authoritative truth he/she has received.
Transition from this primitive level of critical thinking demands a recognition that knowledge is permeated with uncertainty and that authorities are not always trustworthy. An effective education will help the student explore the limits of certainty and accept those areas in which understand the uncertainties that exist in the discipline and in the teacher's own mind. There is room for some development in critical thought within the dualistic framework even where the learner is not ready to move beyond it.
Stage 2: Multiplicity
Perry holds that by a series of steps the learner comes to accept that there are some areas in which the right answers cannot yet be known, or where previously accepted authorities may not be infallible; and that in these areas there is room for diversity of opinion – at least until such time as suitably authoritative answers do become available. However, opinions remain disjointed and typically unburdened by coherent values, since in the absence of self-validating answers to important questions this kind of mentality cannot judge between opinions.
In effect the learner’s world view is divided into two domains: (i) a zone of certainty in which apparently competent authorities can still provide concrete answers; and (b) a domain of indifference in which it is believed that each person’s intuitive answers are valid for him/her. In this domain of indifference, any claims to a higher authority may in fact be vehemently opposed.
To move beyond stage 2 the learner has to address further questions about the trustworthiness of authorities, but at the same time begin to accept the inadequacy of unsubstantiated opinions – both issues point forward to the critical assessment of ideas. A truly educational programme in almost any discipline will encourage the learner to formulate balanced and documented opinions, even if these are presented in a mildly cynical spirit of providing (to use Perry’s own words) “what the professor wants”, since this kind of self-conscious balancing act is the most direct route to acquiring the mental tools for the next stage of development.

Stage 3: Contextualised Knowing or Relativism
At this stage the learner begins to recognise recurring strategies in the way more experienced thinkers approach areas of uncertainty in their knowledge, such as designing experiments, gathering data, weighing up evidence, and comparing interpretations. There is no real progress, however, until the learner recognises that these grey areas are the norm rather than the exception. The crowning achievement in this phase is an awareness of the extent to which interpretation is constrained by context. At this point, authorities are recognized as fellow seekers of understanding, different primarily in that they are experienced at making sense of the profusion of knowledge in their fields.
This may be a period of confusion in which students are weighed down by the mass of good evidence supporting each of several conflicting theories. They may be able to explain and deploy the tools used to weigh up these theories yet have no emotional ownership of these tools and be incapable of accepting personal responsibility for their use of them. They will simply act in a certain way because that is what is expected of them. In due course this can lead to a chameleon-like constitution in which attitudes are conformed flexibly to different circles of friends and colleagues.
In short, relativism fails to provide the tools for making personal or professional choices in the real world problems, and the learner cannot make the transition without accepting that even the most rigorous analysis is inadequate without an underlying system of values.
Stage 4: Committed Knowing or Commitment in Relativism
In Perry’s scheme, the reward of a liberal college education is the ability to commit oneself to opinions, ideologies, values, and interests, but to do so pursuant to a balanced interpretation of evidence, accompanied by a sober awareness of one’s own fallibility, an informed acceptance of responsibility for the consequences, and a willingness to accept others' right to their own choices. There may be a sense of loss at the potentialities that each choice eliminates, a sadness at the inevitable consequences of a necessary choice, as well as fears or insecurities about the future, but these are part of the price of autonomy.
Put in other words from Perry’s own, committed knowing is an ability to hold contradictory ideas in tension for all they are worth – to treat conflicting theories as models which may each yield special insights into a global problem within their appropriate frames of reference. This is a healthy, constructive scepticism vis-à-vis absolute truth claims and simple answers that nevertheless supports rather than undermining personal adherence to a particular epistemology.


APPENDIX F

THE MODIFIED ENGEL SCALE
Referred to in section 2.5


Level
Description
God Is
Man's Task
-12
No God framework
Confirming
Prayer
-11
Experience of emptiness

Presence
-10
God framework
Revealing

-9
Vague awareness and belief in God
  
  
-8
Wondering if God can be known
  
Preparation
-7
Aware of Jesus
Guiding
  
-6
Interested in Jesus
  
  
-5
Experience of Christian love
  
Proclamation
-4
Aware of the basic facts of the gospel
Convicting
  
-3
Aware of personal need
  
  
-2
Grasp the implications of the gospel

Power
-1
Challenged to respond personally
Converting

0
Repentance and faith
  
  
+1
Holy Spirit and baptism
Transforming
Encouragement
+2
Functioning member of local Church
Empowering
  
+3
Continuing growth in character, lifestyle and service
  
  
+4
Part of Team Leadership
  
Support

From “The Modified Engel Scale: Working with God in Evangelism”
by Paul Hazelden [online] 
Available HTTP://www.hazelden.org.uk/pt02/art_pt068_modified_engel_full.htm

APPENDIX G

ATTRIBUTES OF ADULT LEARNERS
Expanded description referred to in section 2.6

As noted in section 2.2 (a) and 2.6, “Discovering Christianity” is largely based on the andragogical learning model – an adult educational approach which has been adapted by Malcolm Knowles and others from the traditional, teacher-centred schoolroom model (see Appendix A for a more detailed description).

There is no one correct model for a faith-based programme, but any course should be geared to the attributes of its clientele. Knowles himself (1983, pp.55-63) refers to four key characteristics of adult learners on which the andragogical model is based:

i)     A characteristic self-concept

A school-based model represents a reassuring point of familiarity for many adult learners, but is in some ways inappropriate to the way adults see themselves:
·      The child’s natural sense of dependence and hunger for guidance are normally left behind in adulthood;
·      Adults generally perceive themselves as self-directed rather than dependent, and do-ers rather than learners;
·      A few individuals experience a sense of resentment at being ‘treated like children’ – especially if they associate school with underachievement or disrespect.

An effective andragogical programme will thus maintain a creative tension between (i) the clear sense of direction and confidence that a recognised teacher can bring to a group, and (ii) the learner-empowerment and mutuality of respect that go with some of the more democratic educational models.

ii)   An accumulating body of experience.

Experience provides an ever-growing resource for both learning and mutual instruction, and is instrumental in defining the individual. This has three important implications:
·      Adults have much to contribute to the learning of others;
·      Adults have a rich foundation to which to relate new experiences;
·      Adults have rather fixed thought patterns and are thus less open-minded.

An effective andragogical programme will build on the first two points and tackle the third. The teacher will root the course content in experimental techniques and personal experience, and provide a clear but flexible framework for students to share insights with one another. At the same time, he/she will attempt to foster a questioning culture in which no habitual way of thinking or perceiving enjoys immunity from challenge.

iii) Receptivity oriented to social roles

Like children, adults are most ready to learn what they need to advance to the next phase of development. Unlike children, however, their “developmental tasks” are oriented not to physiological and mental maturation but to the evolution of social roles. This has important implications for the timing of adult learning, and highlights the need for individual interaction to discern the developmental needs of each participant.

iv)  A time perspective geared to the immediate application of knowledge.

Pedagogy is generally geared to the accumulation of theoretical knowledge and skills that will be a passport to the future; it is typically subject-centred. In contrast, most adults perceive learning as a means of solving immediate life problems; the teaching strategy accordingly needs to be problem-centred rather than subject-centred. This principle has important implications for the adult classroom:
·           An effective andragogical programme will focus not so much on teaching subject matter as on helping people learn;
·           Units should focus on problem areas rather than subjects – a good adult learning experience will not end with the problems students bring, but will often start with them.




[1] I use the term ‘catechism’ and its derivatives warily in discussing nurture in the evangelical tradition, as in these circles they can still carry connotations of rote learning. In academic usage, however, the term refers in a broad sense to “provision for the developmental needs of the faith community” (Dr. K. Williamson).
[2] A phrase Hay borrows from Ricoeur’s distinction between the ‘hermeneutic of suspicion’ and the ‘hermeneutic of faith’. "Hermeneutics seems to me to be animated by this double motivation: willingness to suspect, willingness to listen; vow of rigor, vow of obedience." (Ricoeur, 1970, p. 27)
[3] A.  N. Whitehead’s famous dictum, “the essence of education is that it be religious” (Whitehead 1970; cited in Priestley 1992 p.27), is based on a belief that education must like religion consist in relating the experience of the individual to the dogmas which express the sytematised experience of the community (Priestley, 1992, pp.33-34).