Theos, the public theology think tank, have just published Doing God in Education, written by Professor Trevor Cooling, the Director of the National Institute for Christian Education Research at Canterbury Christ Church University.
The report is a response to the argument that education should keep faith out of school because of the belief that human knowledge and rationality are objective and therefore independent of the “clutter” of religious beliefs. Whilst this view has a veneer of common sense, it excludes the life and faith experiences of huge numbers of people whose knowledge of what it means to be human have been constructed from within a belief framework, nurtured into a worldview from the earliest age. Instead of excluding god from education, Professor Cooling argues for an inclusivist approach that recognises the contribution that can be made when diverse worldviews are regarded as a precious resource.
“Doing God” is therefore a strategy for promoting inclusive education that draws on people’s beliefs in the cause of the common good, in contrast to the anti-inclusive strategy of excluding God, which implicitly indoctrinates pupils into the idea that religion is “the problem”. On this view public theology, understood as religious communities developing positive theologies that enable them to contribute as full partners in public life, should be actively encouraged in the cause of the common good.