I would like to discover if Religious Education in its current educational framework assists in personal faith transmission (Collins-Mayo et al. 2010: 9-10) and/or spiritual development, or has the subject mainly become an exercise in teaching moral and ‘socially cohesive values’ (Copley 2010: 46) in our pluralistic and multicultural society? My hope is that even in the sometimes contentious arena of Religious Education pedagogical practices (Cooling 2010:12 and Erricker 2010: xi) that there remains the opportunity for Religious Education to inspire students to explore their own personal faith or even develop a greater degree of spiritual literacy (Ayman 2004:110). Proverbs 22: 6 prophetically challenges us to ‘train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it’.
This research is important to me on many different paradigm levels; as a Christian who wishes to see a continuation of the Christian faith for the next generation, as a Christian who currently works within a school context and as a father who will soon guide his child into secondary education. I believe my research (and more extensive research into the subject area) could have wider societal significances as well. Currently the Coalition government’s educational policies could cause Religious Education to become a second tier subject comparative to other subjects on the English Baccalaureate (Watt 2011, BBC 2011), dwindling church attendance could put a greater emphasis for more Christian schools work to be performed and I believe that there is definite argument that spirituality could assist in raising the well-being of adolescent young people (King and Benson 2006: 393) within a society which UNICEF attributes to producing the unhappiest children in the Western world (Blair 2007). In this piece of research I would like to address these wider subject areas as well as studying the fundamentality of Religious Education’s role in faith transmission and/or spiritual development.