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deruyter- religious ideals

deruyter- religious ideals - Stud Philos Educ(2009...

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Why Education in Public Schools Should Include Religious Ideals Doret J. de Ruyter Æ Michael S. Merry Published online: 29 October 2008 Ó The Author(s) 2008. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com Abstract This article aims to open a new line of debate about religion in public schools by focusing on religious ideals. The article begins with an elucidation of the concept ‘religious ideals’ and an explanation of the notion of reasonable pluralism, in order to be able to explore the dangers and positive contributions of religious ideals and their pursuit on a liberal democratic society. We draw our examples of religious ideals from Christianity and Islam, because these religions have most adherents in Western liberal democracies that are the focus of this article. The fifth and most important section ‘‘Reasonable pluralism and the inclusion of religious ideals in public secondary schools’’ provides three arguments for our claim that public schools should include religious ideals, namely that they are important to religious people, that they are conducive for the development of pupils into citizens of a liberal democracy, and that the flourishing of pupils as adults is advanced by encountering religious ideals. We also offer a more practical reason: religious ideals can more easily be included within public education than religious dogmas and rules. Keywords Reasonable pluralism Á Religious ideals Á Public schools Á Political liberalism Á Liberal Á Democracy Introduction Public or state schools in some Western liberal democratic societies are notoriously silent on the subject of religion. Operating on a certain reading of the constitutional separation of D. J. de Ruyter ( & ) Faculty of Psychology and Education, Department of Theory and Research in Education, VU University, Van der Boechorststraat 1, 1081 BT Amsterdam, The Netherlands e-mail: [email protected] M. S. Merry Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Department of Philosophy and History of Education, University of Amsterdam, Nieuwe Prinsengracht 130, 1018 VZ Amsterdam, The Netherlands 123 Stud Philos Educ (2009) 28:295–311 DOI 10.1007/s11217-008-9120-4
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church and state, schools are expected to be ‘neutral’ 1 concerning conceptions of the good life. Hence, the argument runs, the best way of guaranteeing that the state does not influence its young citizens towards a particular religious view of things is to have no religion in public schools at all. Although this line of argument is logically consistent, we will defend the opposite position: religion should be an aspect of the education of pupils in public schools. The arguments for this claim do not involve the suggestion that schools should include religions uncritically or that every aspect of every religion prevalent in society should be covered in its curriculum. Neither will we defend the view that schools should aim to strengthen religious adherence amongst their pupils. Our claim is that there
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