Presenter Abstract & Bio
Culturally and religiously responsive pedagogy: Resisting thin equity and promoting greater intercultural understanding
Dylan Chown, Research Fellow, Centre for Islamic Thought and Education (CITE), School of Education, University of South Australia
Learners in Australian schools should rightfully expect to find themselves within and across the curriculum. At the same time, Australian classrooms are increasingly super diverse and reflect the significant diversity of our multicultural pluralistic nation. One element of diversity that is often overlooked or minimised is that of religion. Our research in schools reveals both an uncomfortability and a tendency to avoid religion or engage with knowledges embedded within ways of knowing drawn from religion or religious traditions.
Multiple studies reveal similar findings that Australian educators are weary of talking about religion in schools (Keddie et. al 2018; Halafoff 2018; Ovsienko et al 2019; Singleton et al 2018). The rationale includes: (1) religion doesn’t belong in secular schools; (2) its low priority in an already congested national curriculum; (3) inclusion for all precludes special attention to some; and (4) educators don’t feel confident about the sensitives of broaching religion. Major international collaborations such as the Toledo Guiding Principles for Teaching About Religions and Beliefs in Public Schools (OSCE/ODIHR 2007) promote the importance of multi-faith education. However, teaching about religion public schools is often reduced to religious beliefs and rituals that either culminate in 1) broad generalisations of common humanistic values; or 2) stark distinctions in religious observance. Both of these results of multi-faith education fail to foster understanding of religious worldviews rooted in distinct epistemologies and ontologies.
And yet the Australian Curriculum promotes intercultural understanding (ICU), defined as students learning about and engaging with diverse cultures in ways that recognise commonalities and differences, create connections with others and cultivate mutual respect (ACARA, 2015). Within the Australian Curriculum, ICU remains a mandated cross-curricular general capability. And research informs that schools that have a “well-established culture of racial, religious, and cultural equality” foster the “most interculturally capable students” (Halse et. al. 2015). To respond to thin equity and greater intercultural understanding, we argue for Culturally and Religiously Responsive Pedagogy (CRRP) in shaping pedagogy, curriculum and assessment, ensuring learner identities and knowledges are respected and found within and across the curriculum. CRRP is essential if educators are to promote equity and excellence for all learners, such that they can become successful, confident and creative individuals, who develop into active and informed citizens as set out in the Melbourne Declaration (2008).
Greater understanding and appreciation for the diversity of learners in Australian educational settings through CRRP can promote genuine pluralism and greater social cohesion. In this workshop, implications for educators will be presented from our research, including an examination of case studies across three distinct and diverse school sites as to what CRRP can look like in practice. Participants in this interactive workshop will explore the potential for CRRP to Empower, Enrich and Engage!
BIO: Dylan Chown is a Research Fellow in the Centre for Islamic Thought and Education (CITE), School of Education, UniSA. He is a member of UniSA’s Pedagogies for Justice Research group. Dylan’s PhD research focuses on practical manifestations of Islamic pedagogy in Australian Islamic schools. Other research interests include teacher education and educational justice with a focus on Islamic pedagogy, critical pedagogies and culturally and religiously responsive pedagogy and Muslim learners. Dylan also coordinates courses within the Graduate Diploma/Certificate (Islamic Education) and the Islamic pedagogy specialisation within the Master of Teaching (secondary).