2016: Terry Eagleton, Distinguished Professor of English Literature at Lancaster University, delivers the ninth annual Theos lecture
Doing God in Education
2nd December 2010
"Theos is to be commended for publishing works like this, which provide commentary ons social and political arrangements from a distinctly Christian theological framwork." (Journal of Beliefs and Values, April 2012)
"This is an important book...it should be required reading for Christian educators and administrators and should be on the reading lists of all students training to teach regardless of their subject specialty." (British Journal of Religious Education, March 2012)
If modern Britain is becoming a battlefield between those with religious faith and those with none, education is on the front line. Debates about the role of religion in school life are heated and sometime acrimonious, with some bandying about terms like ‘indoctrination’ and even ‘child abuse’.
Trevor Cooling’s report offers a cool, reasoned and nuanced contribution to the debate. Drawing on several detailed examples he shows that the idea that education is morally neutral or objective is indefensible. Teaching is shaped by our understanding of which virtues we should practice, what qualities we should value, ultimately of what kind of people we should be. To pretend otherwise is naïve or, worse, an attempt to ban from the classroom moral and metaphysical commitments simply because a minority of anti-theists dislike them.
God belongs in the classroom, Cooling argues, not simply because it is a ‘right’ that comes with living in a liberal society, but because the Christian contribution to education is positive and constructive, contributing powerfully to our common good.
Doing God in Education is an important, reasonable, balanced and thoughtful contribution to the case for Christian education. It deserves to be read by those who seek to shape Christian education in our public life and those who want to eradicate it.
“Here is a clear, succinct, intelligent and accessible argument for the legitimate contribution that religious believers can make to education. Cooling demonstrates that believers can express their faith in educational contexts without being divisive, indoctrinatory, exclusive or disrespectful towards others. ”
John Sullivan, Professor of Christian Education, Liverpool Hope University
“Cooling points out that we cannot bracket out questions of belief and value from our common discourse without fatally attenuating our concept of a good society. He calls for a holistic, nuanced approach to religious education that takes seriously the task of forming us all as responsible citizens within a public domain.”
Professor Elaine Graham, Grosvenor Research Professor of Practical Theology, University of Chester
“Trevor Cooling nails the absurdity and illogicality of the secularist position that tries to silence religious voices in the educational arena. His provocative defence of theologically-informed voices in the educational arena will draw fire from the secularist position but his case is robust enough to withstand such attack.”
Revd Canon Professor Leslie J Francis, Professor of Religions and Education, University of Warwick