This piece of work has been developed as a bottom-up approach to a particular need in the classroom. We are mindful of the fact that, as yet, we have not provided a formal theoretical framework in which the work sits and, as is our usual working practice, conversations about what such a framework might look like are ongoing.
This means that, to a certain degree, what we present here is subject to certain limitations.
For example, it has been noted in the initial research phase that there is a tension between presenting the content of theology, philosophy and the human/social sciences as part of a balanced RE curriculum, and delivering content via the methodologies of theology, philosophy and the human/social sciences as part of a balanced RE curriculum.
Our proposed structure enables pupils to engage with both the distinctive content of theology, philosophy and the human/social sciences, but also to develop key learning processes associated with RE.
We believe that it would be appropriate for some students to engage with the specific methodological approaches of the three key disciplines, such as hermeneutics (theology), epistemology (philosophy) or ethnography (human/social sciences) – these could be engaged with as both content to be studied and methodology to be carried out in the classroom.
We are mindful of the fact that methodological processes and subject content are often intertwined. For example, when studying a historical event, students often engage with source texts, which is both a form of encountering content and engaging in methodological processes.
We do not understand that our work should be limited to either methodological process or subject content, nor do we believe that it is as simple as applying this dichotomy to any given curriculum.
Our immediate concern is to produce practical resources to assist teachers in the classroom. As research continues, both in the classroom and in conversation with a range of partners, we expect the way in which the content/methodology relationship relates to a balanced RE curriculum to be sharpened.
We intend to produce a more detailed account of the theoretical framework that underpins these resources in due course, which will explore the relationship between the methodological processes and subject content of the three disciplines: theology, philosophy and the human/social sciences.