Social Inequality and Heterogeneity in Religious Education

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Humanities/Philosophies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2022) | Viewed by 14213

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Department of Catholic Theology, TU Dortmund University, 44227 Dortmund, Germany
Interests: social inequality and heterogeneity in religious education; interreligious learning; political relevance of religiosity

Special Issue Information

Dear colleagues,

Although the topic of educational inequality has been present in the discourse of educational science for decades, the question of whether certain student characteristics create unequal learning conditions has so far hardly played a role in research on religious education. Likewise, the question of whether a heterogeneous composition of an RE learning group has an impact on learning processes and learning effects is only beginning to be investigated. The few quantitative–empirical (e.g., Unser 2019) and ethnographic studies to date (e.g., Kittelmann Flensner 2017; Osbeck and Lied 2012) suggest, however, that there are dominant perspectives on religion and worldviews present in RE which create unequal learning conditions.

The focus of this Special Issue is on problems of social inequality and heterogeneity in religious education. Particularly welcome are contributions that examine and describe, with reference to religious education, (1) unequal learning conditions of students, (2) the impact of heterogeneous learning groups on learning processes and learning effects, (3) necessary skills of teachers, (4) inclusive learning settings and their effects, or (5) strategies of schools and curricula for dealing with challenges arising from inequality and heterogeneity. This Special Issue will bundle research on this topic for the first time and will make it accessible to a wider readership.

Prof. Dr. Alexander Unser
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • religious education
  • social inequality
  • classroom composition
  • heterogeneity

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

14 pages, 654 KiB  
Article
Art as a Medium in Heterogeneous Learning Groups: First Findings of an Empirical Study
by Claudia Gärtner, Britta Konz and Anna Hans
Religions 2023, 14(1), 17; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel14010017 - 22 Dec 2022
Viewed by 1312
Abstract
Working with art is considered to have a special potential for heterogeneity-sensitive learning processes. It should pick up on elementary experiences, open up emotional access and diverse learning paths, and serve different learning types, strategies, and levels. In the heterogeneity-sensitive didactics of religion [...] Read more.
Working with art is considered to have a special potential for heterogeneity-sensitive learning processes. It should pick up on elementary experiences, open up emotional access and diverse learning paths, and serve different learning types, strategies, and levels. In the heterogeneity-sensitive didactics of religion and art, however, these assumptions have not yet been empirically proven, and, in general, theoretical designs dominate in the heterogeneity-sensitive didactics of religion. In our contribution, we explore the question of how art processes enable heterogeneity-sensitive learning processes in religious education and help to reduce social inequality. For this purpose, we evaluate the first results of our qualitative empirical study on heterogeneity-sensitive learning processes with art in religious education (hekuru, which is based on subject didactic development research. There are initial indications that, contrary to widespread opinions, the thesis of a generally easy accessibility of art proves that needs have to be differentiated, and that special milieu sensitivity is advisable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Inequality and Heterogeneity in Religious Education)
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19 pages, 355 KiB  
Article
Bible Didactics and Social Inequality? Critical Considerations on the Interconnection of Religious Education and Heterogeneous Settings
by Kathrin Winkler and Stefan Scholz
Religions 2022, 13(5), 423; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050423 - 6 May 2022
Viewed by 1626
Abstract
This paper deals with the question, to what extent, in the German context, have biblical didactic implications and systemic requirements in religious education led to social inequality in heterogeneous classrooms. Based on four different case studies in elementary, middle, and vocational schools, an [...] Read more.
This paper deals with the question, to what extent, in the German context, have biblical didactic implications and systemic requirements in religious education led to social inequality in heterogeneous classrooms. Based on four different case studies in elementary, middle, and vocational schools, an empirical insight is provided that sheds exploratory and descriptive light on the construction of reality in the context of biblical learning. The analysis clearly shows that physical as well as socialization-related limitations, structural and systemic conditions in the German school system, and also strangeness and existential irrelevance, are obvious barriers that prevent students in heterogeneous settings from accessing biblical learning. In the synopsis, with theological–pedagogical implications as well as didactical challenges, it becomes clear how necessary difference-sensitive Bible didactics in the context of heterogeneity and social inequality is. Finally, based on the empirical evidence of the analyzed case studies and the theoretical framings, concrete expectations for biblical learning in religious education, in relation to heterogeneity and social inequality, are highlighted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Inequality and Heterogeneity in Religious Education)
27 pages, 411 KiB  
Article
The Socio-Pedagogical Dynamics of Religious Knowledge in Religious Education: A Participatory Action-Research in Greek Secondary Schools on Understanding Diversity
by Marios Koukounaras Liagkis
Religions 2022, 13(5), 395; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050395 - 25 Apr 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2119
Abstract
The study examines which type of religious knowledge acquired in Religious Education in Greek Secondary schools can initiate both personal and collective change in understanding and appreciation of different cultures. It is blended research using participatory action-research with ethnographic elements methodology. The research [...] Read more.
The study examines which type of religious knowledge acquired in Religious Education in Greek Secondary schools can initiate both personal and collective change in understanding and appreciation of different cultures. It is blended research using participatory action-research with ethnographic elements methodology. The research gathered qualitative and quantitative data through questionnaires, focus groups, journals, and the technique of the “Most Significant Change” from four resources/target groups (students, teachers, parents, researcher). It took place during the 2017–2018 school year in a High and an Upper Schools in which the researcher participated in the school communities as a teacher. Statistical analysis (SPSS), content analysis and thematic analysis of the data show that religious knowledge, developed in Education with the aim of religious literacy, as defined in the context of Greek/European context, can operate on a personal and collective level, in cultivation of respect and underacting of cultural diversity. This is achieved when the religious knowledge is understood as experience and is meaningful when applied to the concepts of understanding, reflection and action. The overall finding is that transformative dynamics of religious knowledge facilitate both minor and major changes in the mindset of young people. Concluding, in Religious Education without sacrificing the religious content of the subject, a high degree of cultural recognition and acceptance of religious diversity can be achieved, and to a certain extent enable a change in attitude towards immigrants and refugees, in other words the ‘other’ as well as in communication and acquaintance between team members, recognition of and a greater degree of acceptance of otherness, and the development of relationships which were non-existent before. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Inequality and Heterogeneity in Religious Education)
17 pages, 713 KiB  
Article
Social Inequality in Religious Education: Examining the Impact of Sex, Socioeconomic Status, and Religious Socialization on Unequal Learning Opportunities
by Alexander Unser
Religions 2022, 13(5), 389; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13050389 - 24 Apr 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 3602
Abstract
The study of social inequality has so far received little attention in religious education research, although this phenomenon has been studied in educational science and sociology of education research for fifty years. This article therefore aims to clarify the explanatory power of this [...] Read more.
The study of social inequality has so far received little attention in religious education research, although this phenomenon has been studied in educational science and sociology of education research for fifty years. This article therefore aims to clarify the explanatory power of this research approach for research in religious education. Based on Bourdieu’s theory of cultural and social reproduction, a structural equation model is used to examine the extent to which students’ sex, socioeconomic status, and religious socialization determine unequal learning opportunities in religious education. The data basis of the study is a sample of 952 students from Germany who were interviewed by means of questionnaires. The results show that religious socialization and the students’ sex are relevant to unequal learning conditions, whereas the socioeconomic status of the family has a marginal influence. Unequal learning conditions are created in the classroom by differences in the perception of the relevance of the subject matter, and in the understanding of learning processes. Religious students are in both cases at an advantage compared to non-religious students. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Inequality and Heterogeneity in Religious Education)
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14 pages, 299 KiB  
Article
Heterogeneity in Religious Commitment and Its Predictors
by Oliver Hohenschue, Ulrich Riegel and Mirjam Zimmermann
Religions 2022, 13(2), 139; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13020139 - 3 Feb 2022
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2995
Abstract
Nowadays, people show various forms of religious commitment. To better understand this heterogeneity, it is necessary to analyze the factors that predict that commitment. For this purpose, the paper raises the question of whether and how such commitment is predicted by (a) the [...] Read more.
Nowadays, people show various forms of religious commitment. To better understand this heterogeneity, it is necessary to analyze the factors that predict that commitment. For this purpose, the paper raises the question of whether and how such commitment is predicted by (a) the character of the religious institution to which the individual belongs; (b) individual characteristics, such as intelligence and attitude toward religion; and (c) social environment, such as one’s religious upbringing in the family home. According to logistic regression analysis, it is predominantly religious belonging and religious socialization in the family home that predict religious commitment. Religious socialization is by far the most effective predictor when the difference between marginal and slight religious commitment is regarded. The predictive power of religious belonging depends on the particular religious tradition, as being Muslim has a bigger effect on religious commitment than being Protestant or Catholic. Individual characteristics, however, have no impact on how an individual engages with religion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Inequality and Heterogeneity in Religious Education)
13 pages, 250 KiB  
Article
Enlightened Heterogeneity: Religious Education Facing the Challenges of Educational Inequity
by Bernhard Grümme
Religions 2021, 12(10), 835; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100835 - 8 Oct 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1261
Abstract
Does religious education contribute to injustice? At the least, religious education operates in a socio-political context shaped by inequality. Educational inequity is a phenomenon that affects society and schools. It is thus a matter for religious pedagogy, which is concerned with the equal [...] Read more.
Does religious education contribute to injustice? At the least, religious education operates in a socio-political context shaped by inequality. Educational inequity is a phenomenon that affects society and schools. It is thus a matter for religious pedagogy, which is concerned with the equal dignity of all in their freedom, in the light of the theology of the image of God. Religious education has to take place normatively in the light of freedom towards freedom. This paper aims to show that in religious education, demands for educational equity have dramatically increased in the face of growing heterogeneity. The struggle for identity and justice in the intersectionality of various aspects points to the complexity of the challenges. However, it is evident that religious education cannot override social conditions. Moreover, from a praxeological perspective, religious education contributes to educational inequity and hegemonic orders of difference through mechanisms such as essentialization and othering, and thus runs the risk of becoming aporetic. The concept of Enlightened Heterogeneity developed here counteracts this, correlating identity and justice intersectionally while self-reflexively reflecting on one’s own practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Social Inequality and Heterogeneity in Religious Education)
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