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On-line version ISSN 2304-8557
Print version ISSN 0023-270X

Koers (Online) vol.77 n.1 Pretoria  2012




The emergence of philosophy in Scottish secondary school Religious Education


Die totstandkoming van filosofie in die Religieuse Onderwys in Skotse sekondêre skole



Graeme Nixon

Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies, University of Aberdeen, Scotland





This article considers changes in the subject Religious Education (RE) within the context of Scottish secondary schools, charting a development towards the increasing use of philosophical skills and content. Before considering the nature, extent and timing of this development this article provides a broader context within which to understand educational change in Scotland. The emergent hypothesis is that Religious Education has become more philosophical as a result of changes in society (particularly secularisation), changes in education (particularly the move to reflective pedagogy), and also as a result of the close epistemological relationship between philosophy and religious education. This article adopts an interpretative research paradigm and considers quantitative and qualitative data drawn from a survey of 126 secondary schools and seventeen key informant interviews. Taken alongside existing reviews of policy and research literature this data demonstrate that three interlinked hypothetical strands have been at the heart of the move towards more philosophical Religious Education, although other possibilities are also raised and considered. This study also suggests areas for further research based on the above findings.


Hierdie artikel bestudeer die veranderings ten opsigte van Religieuse Onderwys in die konteks van Skotse sekondêre skole. Dit vermeld ook die ontwikkeling aangaande die toenemende gebruik van filosofiese vaardighede en inhoud. Voordat die aard, omvang en tydsberekening van hierdie ontwikkeling oorweeg word, bied die artikel 'n wyer konteks waarin die veranderings in Skotse onderwys verstaan moet word. Die hipotese wat ontwikkel word, is dat verandering in die samelewing (veral sekularisasie) en in onderwys (veral die beweging na reflektiewe onderwysleer), sowel as die noue epistemologiese band tussen filosofie en religieuse onderwys 'n meer filosofiese aard aan religieuse onderwys verleen. Hierdie artikel maak gebruik van 'n interpretatiewe navorsingsparadigma en oorweeg kwantitatiewe en kwalitatiewe inligting wat verkry is deur 'n opname waaraan 126 sekondêre skole deelgeneem het en deur onderhoude met sewentien sleutelinformante. Wanneer hierdie data tesame met bestaande beleidsondersoeke en wetenskaplike literatuur oorweeg word, toon dit aan dat drie hipotetiese komponente wat onderling aan mekaar verbind is, die kern van die beweging na meer filosofiese Religieuse Onderwys vorm, hoewel ander moontlikhede ook geopper en oorweeg word. Op grond van bogenoemde bevindings stel hierdie artikel ook verdere navorsingsareas voor.



Full text available only in PDF format.



Competing interests

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this article.



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Graeme Nixon
School of Education
MacRobert Building
King's College
University of Aberdeen
Aberdeen AB24 5UA

Received: 05 July 2011
Accepted: 03 Oct. 2011
Published: 06 Nov. 2012

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