Formation and Christian Education in England

  • Trevor Cooling


The chapter takes as its starting point three potential approaches to religious education (namely instruction, formation and education) discussed in an influential report on English schools. It is noted that the notion of religious formation has been a problematic idea for many teachers since the 1970s. The current discomfort is traced through intensive case study research with 14 teachers in church secondary schools. The chapter then develops the notions of formation and instruction, arguing that the concept of instruction is based on a positivist understanding of Christian learning whereas the concept of formation is better understood through a hermeneutical model of learning. Interpreted as such, formation offers a productive model for Christian Education.


Clarke and Woodhead Formation Instruction Education Hirst Christian ethos Positivism Responsible hermeneutics Epistemic humility 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Trevor Cooling
    • 1
  1. 1.Canterbury Christ Church UniversityCanterburyUK

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