Teaching primary religious education in an increasingly pluralist society brings new challenges and opportunities. This timely, meticulously researched book is an indispensable guide for teachers, students and anyone with an interest in the role of religious education in Irish primary schools today.
Anne Hession has consolidated a vast wealth of academic thought, from both within the Catholic Church and the wider community, in order to consider the place of Catholic religious education in twenty-first century Ireland. The book deftly explores the most salient features of this topic from several perspectives, including the political, theological and educational; and ably demonstrates the ways in which Catholic religious education can not merely survive but flourish in a liberal, multicultural society.
This book is informative, easy to read and rooted in a wide body of research. It provides an excellent, cohesive overall framework for understanding the place of religious education in Catholic primary schools. – The Furrow, September 2015
An extremely valuable, well written and very well researched work that deals with one of the most pressing issues in education in Ireland today; namely the role of the Catholic school in an increasingly diverse, more secular (some might argue) post-Christian Ireland.– The Irish Catholic, 8 October 2015
Anne Hession is a lecturer in Religious Education at St PatrickÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s College, Dublin, a linked college of Dublin City University. Her fields of academic research are in the Religious Education of children and the spirituality of children. She is coauthor with Patricia Kieran of Children, Catholicism and Religious Education (Veritas, 2005). She is co-editor with Patricia Kieran of Exploring Theology: Making Sense of the Catholic Tradition (Veritas, 2007).
Even a cursory glance at this book reveals the depth and substance of an excellently written work. The book successfully portrays the major, challenging issues arising from current debate in Irish primary Religious Education. So complex is the Irish context, that only the author's spark of genius will enable the reader to emerge from the text with a clarity rarely found in that often fraught and contested space.
– Dr. Caroline Renehan, Senior Lecturer in Religious Education and author of Openness with Roots: Education in Religion in Irish Primary Schools, Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014
This overview of Catholic primary religious education in a pluralist society is most welcome, highlighting as it does the depth of philosophical, theological, educational and practical thinking underpinning the Catholic approach. The complementary tasks of formation and critical education are presented in a refreshing and accessible manner. The religious development of the child, in an age-sensitive way, is encouraged as part of a holistic approach to education, while respect for the plurality of perspectives present in contemporary Irish society and care for all are promoted. This volume is essential reading for teachers, for all involved in leading and managing schools, for those engaged in initial teacher education, as well as for parents seeking to understand and participate in a contemporary approach to religious education.
– Dr. Gareth Byrne, Senior Lecturer in Religious Education and writer of Share the Good News: National Directiory for Catechesis in Ireland, 2010
Anne Hession has made a very helpful, accessible and timely contribution to the unfolding discourse surrounding primary religious education in Ireland. The aim of this book is to 'help student teachers to begin to understand the Catholic vision of education and of religious education within the context of some alternative models of education and of religious and ethical education offered in the Irish and British contexts' (14). While her primary audience are student teachers, anyone interested in religious education in Ireland would he well advised to read this book. Hession believes it is helpful to ask what religious education contributes to young children's spiritual, moral and religious development (16). And then, which type of religious education 'will best contribute to children's healthy engagement with pluralism and diversity in Irish society'(16). Her exploration of these questions offers on the one hand, a cohesive vision for religious education and on the other, a challenge to current practice and the quality of what is being taught at the moment.
This book is informative, easy to read and rooted in a wide body of research. It provides an excellent, cohesive overall framework for understanding the place of religious education in Catholic primary schools. However, it also raises some important and timely questions, such as: is the current practice of education and religious education in particular in Catholic primary schools rooted in the approach outlined in this book? If helping children to notice and respond to the presence of God in their own lives is at the heart of the enterprise is this something that teachers are currently able to do? Will all teachers in Catholic primary schools be able to do this in the future? What might this require of colleges of education, dioceses, bishops, diocesan advisors, principals, boards of management, parents, and children? This book raises the bar for religious education. It offers a vision and a language to realise this aim. However, it remains to be seen if the stakeholders will reach for it or not.
– The Furrow, September 2015
This is an extremely valuable, well written and very well researched work that deals with one of the most pressing issues in education in Ireland today; namely the role of the Catholic school in an increasingly diverse, more secular (some might argue) post-Christian Ireland.
As the title suggests, the work does deal with religious education in the Catholic primary sector today, but the author’s treatment of the topic ensures that this book will be of interest to an audience beyond those who are most directly involved with the delivery of religious education in Catholic primary schools.
In posing the issue of religious education in the broadest theological, philosophical, educational and even political contexts, Anne Hession invites the reader to consider the most fundamental questions about the goal of education itself, the nature of the Catholic school and its role in the mission of the Church, and the validity of religious education in the formation of young people in a rapidly changing world – as well as exploring the fundamental human dignity of each person and the values of modern society. ... Each chapter contains a list of relevant checklists, questions for reflection and supplementary reading which will be extremely valuable for all those who see the education of young people in and for the modern world as something that dignifies both the human person and society.
It is a work that is deserving of the widest audience and one that will inform, challenge and inspire the reader.
– Aidan M. Donaldson, The Irish Catholic, 8 October 2015