What's in a worldview? On Trevor Cooling's 'Doing God in Education'

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In 'Doing God in Education', Trevor Cooling aims to defeat what might be called the marginalising view of the place of religion in education. I am sympathetic to this aim; but I think Cooling conflates two different arguments, predicated on two different concepts marked by the term 'worldview', and that only one of the arguments is plausible. The first argument assumes that worldviews are theories of the meaning of life and contends that learning in all areas of the curriculum bears on the credibility of rival worldviews, including religious ones. Study in any discipline can prompt reflection on wider questions of meaning and purpose. It is therefore important to give explicit attention to worldviews in education. This seems broadly right. The second argument assumes that worldviews are conceptual schemes and contends that, without initiation into a worldview, 'children cannot think at all'. While it may be true that having a conceptual scheme is a condition of the possibility of experience, it is highly implausible to suppose that religions qualify as worldviews in this sense. So Cooling's second argument poses no threat to the marginalising view.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-537
Number of pages11
JournalOxford Review of Education
Issue number5
Early online date12 Sept 2012
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


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