Formations of the postsecular in education

Lewin, David; (2018) Formations of the postsecular in education. In: The Routledge Handbook of Postsecularity. Routledge, [S.I.], pp. 1-11. ISBN 9781138234147

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The place of religion in education has long been controversial. There is no simple answer to the question of how religion and education are related because the complex religious history of each nation state gives form to those relations (see Jackson 2007). From a philosophical perspective, these relations have been usefully arranged into themes: religious upbringing; faith schools; religious education in the curriculum, religious philosophies of education, and issues of religious identity (see Strhan 2014). Arguably more than any other domain, the spaces of education (from parenting, to schooling, and beyond) are where the interactions between public and private are most complex and unavoidable. Therefore, I argue that education is a key consideration for postsecular theory, one in which neutrality is simply meaningless. In other words, to speak of neutral educational formation is oxymoronic. Some key questions must be addressed: What do religion, education and ‘religious education’ look like in a postsecular age? What philosophical and pedagogical issues are raised by the new context of the postsecular? The terms of this debate are by no means settled and so I explore the varied conceptions of secularism and the postsecular, arguing that the postsecular complicates rather than refutes the secularization thesis. The argument challenges the view of religion as basically reducible to doctrines, creeds or truth claims, showing how that conception of religion skews the discussion of the place of religion in education towards one that considers only issues of indoctrination, and the rights of parents or religious groups to reproduce themselves. I suggest that the post-colonial concern to reveal and challenge assumptions around Western liberalism provides a fresh context to articulate the postsecular and its influence upon education.