Author Guidelines
Editorial Board
Related Links
Contact Us

a journal of analysis and comment advancing public understanding of religion and education
(more on the Journal)

Vol. 31 No. 1  Spring 2004

Taking the Tournament of Worldviews Seriously in Education:
Why Teaching about Religion Is Not Enough

Perry L. Glanzer

"I believe…that there is probably no more urgent problem in pedagogy today than the problem of worldview."

I.N. Sizemskaia,
Institute of Philosophy
Russian Academy of Science

The past decade has witnessed an explosion of scholarly efforts to address the role of religion in public education. Various authors such as Charles Haynes, Oliver Thomas, Warren Nord, Nel Noddings, Martin Marty, Robert Nash, and James Sears have set forth reasons why educators should appropriately integrate religion into the public school curriculum and how they should go about doing it. Although I agree with much in these scholars’ works, I believe their focus needs to be broadened. Instead of discussing how educators can teach about religion, I propose that teacher education and training should focus first on how worldviews or narratives shape educators, curriculum, and knowledge. When teachers understand this influence, I argue, they will be equipped to think critically about worldview differences and to demonstrate justice toward different worldviews.

The scholars mentioned above do not completely ignore this idea. I believe, however, that this matter needs to be developed in a slightly different manner in order to focus the debate on the moral issue of justice and the ideal of liberal education. In the first part of this paper, I briefly identify productive and unproductive uses of the terms "worldview" and "narrative" by a few of the above mentioned scholars. Then, I present three arguments for why we must focus upon the importance of worldviews and narratives instead of religion as a separate discipline. In the second part of this paper, I outline how applying these concepts furthers both an understanding of how to create a more just public education system, as well as a vision of liberal education that develops critical thinking and civic virtue. I also give specific suggestions for how this emphasis upon worldviews can and should influence the education and training of future educators.

Defining Worldview and Narrative

Scholars who discuss these issues, as I mentioned above, have often employed the concepts of "worldview" and "narrative." I will merely refer to three examples both to help clarify what I mean when I use these terms and to suggest a helpful definition.

[To read more...]