EXTRACT from an article by Anna Halafoff, Deakin University; Andrew Singleton, Deakin University; Gary D Bouma,Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Monash University and Mary Lou Rasmussen, Australian National University
Around 80% of secondary school students who had classes about diverse religions claim to have positive views of Muslims. This compares to around 70% who had not attended such classes.
Our national study of Australian Generation Z teens (those born around the mid-1990s to mid-2000s) showed teens who had been exposed to education about diverse religions and worldviews were more tolerant of religious minorities, including Muslims and Hindus, than those who hadn’t.
General religious education is distinct from religious instruction, which is taught by teachers or volunteers from religious communities. Religious instruction focuses on faith formation in a particular religion.
Teachers provide classes in diverse worldviews and religions, which include learning about major faith traditions and other worldviews, such as humanism and rationalism.
Such classes are often a distinct subject in Catholic and other religious schools in Australia. But government schools don’t typically provide opportunities to study diverse worldviews. They may provide limited content in some humanities subjects, such as history.
Teaching children about the diversity of cultures and viewpoints in their social environment may help counteract the religious prejudice seen in the media.
SOURCE: Halafoff, Anna; Singleton, Andrew; Bouma, Gary D. and Rasmussen, Mary Lou. “Want a Safer World for Your Children? Teach them about diverse religions and worldviews.” The Conversation, 21 March 2019.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia