Publications: Articles and Chapters

Abstracts of articles published by IACS members. Listed chronologically.

Ota, C. (2000)
Stories Told and Lessons Learned: Meeting Beliefs, Values and Community through Narrative and Dialogue.

This article presents the findings of case-study research carried out to explore the development of narrative skills in a small group of three young girls. Having met regularly with Juni, Navdip and Nazia over the course of a year this paper reflects on how the girls' narrative skills developed and how this process enabled them to speak about their lives, beliefs, values and experiences in their own faith communities. Empirically grounded the article will explore the nature of the narrative process and how this can be employed by practitioners as a way of facilitating the development of the whole child, in particular their spiritual and moral growth.

Erricker, C. (1999)
Authority, Representation and Voice: The place of spirituality in religious education. Forthcoming.

This article considers the issues raised by attempting to place spirituality in the context of religious education. This might appear to be the least problematic of marriages or most obvious pairing of dancing partners, when considering how it can be addressed in other curriculum subjects. However, on closer inspection perhaps it gives rise to some of the most disturbing issues formal education has to face. These issues range across interconnected themes related to philosophical enquiry, national context and tradition, social values and the rights of citizens in democratic communities. The argument of the author is that, when we interrogate these issues in the context of different social histories, with special reference to England and Wales, we find that the concept of spirituality questions current constructs of education and religious education.

Erricker, C. (1999)
Spirituality and the Market Place of Education. Forthcoming.

The title of this paper is meant to identify two ways in which we may place spirituality in an educational context. Traditionally, the market place was where the community came together, ostensibly for economic purposes, but also where it affirmed its sense of belonging and identity through conversation. People talked with one another and exchanged stories.The market place, in modern (and modernist) parlance is the global arena in which, as a society, we compete for wealth. This market place drives the aims of education. It can be identified in a local sense, by such institutions as the supermarket where we pay our money and take our choice. We then proceed through the checkout with our products. We do not loiter to converse and exchange conversation since that is not what we have come to do, nor is the atmosphere conducive to doing so. To make an analogy, since all modernist institutions are necessarily similar in kind and character; there is a sense in which the school has developed similar features in that the prime reason for attending is to collect the curriculum and, at the checkout (examinations) take away the goods (records of achievement). These can then be used to establish our credentials in the larger market place which schooling serves.Children and young adults, of course, do not necessarily understand this, since they recognise that school is a place where you can meet with and talk to friends, in much the same way as the old market place. What concerns me in the rest of this paper is whether the new market place of the school and the aims of modernist education can appropriately accommodate any effective notion of spirituality at its heart. And, if not, whether what has to be addressed is our overall conception of education as well as our understanding of spiritual development.Within this context I believe there are two focuses of concern. The first is our tendency to conceive of education and spirituality within either a religious or secular framework; the second is to ignore the question of the epistemological paradigm on which our educational system is based and to which the idea of spiritual development must conform. It is these two issues that I intend this paper to address.

Erricker, J. (1999)
Representation in Research: Whose values are we representing?. Forthcoming.

This paper will examine the issue of the representation of the views of the subjects of qualitative research in the publication of that research. It asks the question to what extent should we guard against whole groups - ethnic groups, age groups, gender groups - being represented by the views of single research subjects. The presentation of case study research data can lead to apparent misrepresentation of the larger group to which the subject belongs, and this larger group may not wish these views to be made public. What is the position of the researcher in this situation and how can she acknowledge her subjectivity and ensure that the presentation of research does not reflect bias? This ethical issue is examined using examples from the current research of the Children and Worldviews Project which works with children, both boys and girls, aged from six to eleven, from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Erricker, C. and Erricker, J. (1999)
Spirituality in the Classroom

Published in: Wright, A. (ed.), Learning to Teach Religious Education in the Secondary School: a companion to school experience, chapter 11. Forthcoming.

This chapter aims to introduce the concept of spirituality as it is variously understood and currently debated in society and education. It will present the legal requirements for addressing children's and young people's spiritual development in state education and the requirements and guidelines produced in the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) and the documentation of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority (SCAA), which has now become the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA). It will survey different understandings of the nature of spirituality and the relationship between spirituality and religious belief with reference to the development of spiritual education in state schooling. This will lead us to consider ways in which spiritual development may be addressed in practice within the school, the curriculum and religious education.

Ota, Catherine
The place of religious education in the development of children's worldviews.

Adopting a narrative epistemology this study uses qualitative research with children between the ages of 9 and 11 to consider the nature of children's worldviews and the place of RE in their meaning construction. In England and Wales church schools are perceived to be particularly attentive to children's personal, social, cultural, moral and spiritual development, especially through RE. Employing a case study approach with four church schools (two Church of England and two Roman Catholic) this research utilises a broad understanding of RE (lessons, collective worship and ethos) to investigate whether these perceptions are justified.

The work is informed by a range of linguistic, sociological, educational, philosophical and theological particulars and whilst it is acknowledged that this study constitutes only a small scale study it aims to authentically represent and analyse the children's narratives and experiences of RE. Pursuing a grounded theory approach that works from open interviews with children this research develops an analytical framework that considers children's meaning construction in terms of the nature and impact of different relationships. By taking account of empirical research and theorists in complementary areas the process of analysis examines the notion of the relational self and proposes a model for interrogating the structure and effect of different aspects of relationships for the individual's meaning construction. Throughout the course of the research this study also develops the concept of worldviews by inquiring into what it means to speak of worldview development.

Combining these elements with narrative theory this relational analysis and conceptualisation of worldview development explores the place of nurture and the provision of RE in church schools. Taking account of the contemporary theoretical debate in this area this study offers a critical reflection of its findings at the four schools involved with this work. Highlighting the crucial role of relationships and experience, together with how this is addressed in the learning process, the fundamental distinction is made between RE that focuses on to think in contrast to to think.

Conclusions and recommendations are drawn which address:

  1. The need for better communication between those who contribute to the shaping of models of RE in church schools;
  2. The need for practitioners to develop a clear understanding of their role in the classroom so that they might confidently engage in those relationships necessary for children's worldview development;
  3. The need for a broader theoretical debate in relation to church schools and RE;
  4. The need for further research in this area.

In advancing a way of understanding children's meaning construction and worldview development this study offers a framework and suggestions for further research which speaks to both the context of church schools as well as the broader field of education generally. Spirituality in Education: what are we educating for? A critique of current educational policy and school provision

Erricker, C. (1998)
Spirituality in Education: what are we educating for? A critique of current educational policy and school provision.

International Journal of Children's Spirituality, 3(1).

This article constitutes an analytical survey of recent approaches to spiritual development and, in particular, a critique of government policy and practice in the documentation produced by Ofsted and SCAA (now QCA). It questions the consistency and adequacy with which spiritual development has been addressed and the ambiguity inherent in the SCAA approach when set alongside the pronouncements of its Chief Executive Nicholas Tate. By drawing on selected writers the claims for inclusivity, exclusivity and consensus as bases for educational practice are scrutinised and the case for a relativist approach to the subject advanced. The writer argues that teachers should engage with the process of spiritual development rather than being concerned with a pre-determined outcome aligned to either moral ends or faith commitment. Spiritual and Moral Development

Erricker, C. and Erricker, J. (1997)
Spiritual and Moral Development - MA module unit 1 - The Basic curriculum and spirituality

Published in: Kay, W. and Francis, L. (eds.) Religion in Education
Leominster, UK, Gracewing.


  • 1.1. What is spirituality?
  • 1.2 The law, government directives and guidelines.
  • 1.3 School Curriculum and Assessment Authority - Discussion papers.
  • 1.4 Spirituality and Theology.
  • 1.5 Recent research in spiritual development.
  • 1.6 Spirituality and the curriculum: case studies in science and geography.

Introduction to the Unit

This unit will examine approaches to Spiritual Development in education. It will:

  • Introduce current government directives and guidelines;
  • Discuss the initiatives of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority;
  • Discuss the relationship between spirituality and theology;
  • Give examples of recent research;
  • Examine issues in the relationship between selected curriculum areas and the development of spirituality.


  • To analyse what is meant by spiritual development in an educational context;
  • To interpret and critique approaches to spiritual development;
  • To consider the implementation of spiritual development in the basic curriculum.

Learning Outcomes.
On completion of this unit students will be expected to have:

  • Demonstrated a critical understanding of different approaches to spiritual development;
  • Shown competence in applying spiritual development to the curriculum;
  • Demonstrated a thorough understanding of the legal framework, government guidelines and other significant educational documentation;
  • Evidenced the distinctions between theological and non-theological approaches;
  • Evidenced an awareness of the complex issues involved in this area of curriculum development

Erricker J. (1997)
Children's Moral Opinions on Killing Animals

Published in: the International Journal of Children's Spirituality, 2 (1), pp.46-55.

This article is an account of conversations with young children in which they discuss and reveal their opinions on particular issues with moral implications. The sample used is very small: the significant conversations were with just two children and therefore the conclusions that I draw can only be considered as all case study results are considered, as pointing tentatively in a particular direction, and inviting resonance with the work of others. Learning to Juggle-the experience of Muslim and Sikh children coping with different value systems

Ota, C. (1997)
Learning to Juggle - the experience of Muslim and Sikh children coping with different value systems.

Published in: the International Journal of Beliefs and Values, 18 (2), pp.227-234.

J. Mezzirow describes learning as a process of adjusting and acclimatising to the world. He sees it as 'the means by which people come to perceive, interpret, criticise and transform the worlds in which they live'. For the Muslim and Sikh children in this case study the worlds they live in are very different, often presenting conflicting values and ideas. When talking about their lives there is an acute sense of this - children's learning and development involves a realisation that they must develop their skills of juggling, and they must develop it quickly. The values which these children juggle with come from three distinct areas of their lives; the home, the community and the school. To a lesser degree the wider world also breaks in, becoming more influential as the children get older. Initially I should like to introduce you to the school and to how our information was collected. I make no apology for quoting the children and staff at length throughout as their comments can convey far more clearly both the issues they raise and the points I wish to make in this article.

Ota, C., Erricker, C. and Erricker, J. (1997)
The Secrets of the Play Ground.

Published in: Pastoral Care in Education, 15 (4), pp.19-24.

Using the approach of qualitative research, the writers set out to examine the contribution that 'play' makes to children's development. Central to this is the role of the play ground: 'We aim to uncover the significance of the play ground as an environment where children are empowered to participate, create and develop in a unique and fundamental way.' The play ground is a place where the child is in control and able to develop ideas away from the influence of adults. Using transcripts of conversations with children, the authors reveal the feelings that children have about these special places. They go on to argue that school playgrounds should be designed to respond to children's need for safe secret places.

Erricker, C. and Erricker, J. (1994)
Metaphorical Awareness and the Methodology of Religious Education.

Published in: British Journal of Religious Education, 16 (3).

The authors argue that religious education, as practised in schools, has always lacked a sound theory of conceptual development and that this has resulted in both children and adults being alienated from its metaphysical concerns. Building on the work of Sallie McFague, Susan Sontag and Oliver Sacks, this article looks at the methodology of religious education and suggests that we need to provide a systematic approach that takes seriously the children's imagination and interpretations of their experience, as well as scrutinising how we present religious world views. It argues that the vehicles for this are models and metaphors with which children can identify. A contrast is presented between mechanistic and holistic conceptions of education, offering a critique of the former and developing a process orientated approach to the latter that will serve religious education. In doing so it acknowledges the influence of Richard Rorty's approach to social science and morality which emphasises the utility of narratives and vocabularies.

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