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Prayer in Schools: In Search of a New Paradigm

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Reimagining the Landscape of Religious Education
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Abstract

Prayer and schools have an uncomfortable history together. Prayer is therefore a useful ‘test’ of various aspects of schooling. Empirical research on prayer in schools is used here to develop a new paradigm—a new way of understanding prayer in school, in terms of particular theories of spirituality, and a new way of understanding schooling, in terms of prayer and spirituality. The paradigm that we present reflects the views of young people studied in various recent research projects, and it also reflects well-established religious and philosophical positions. It proposes a model of ‘mundane’ spirituality inspired by the work of various Jewish and Christian scholars, notably Kook, Buber, Macmurray and Hay. This is exemplified by research on young people in Israel and the UK. Implications of this work for schools are described, noting the value of uncertainty and the as yet unknown, the plural, the open. The chapter does not reject education—or religion—as a search for ‘truth’: it recognises that truth is still emergent, and that there is room for the mysterious, the ineffable.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    We do not attempt to define ‘prayer’ in this chapter, theologically or sociologically, and in the reports of empirical research we accept the contextual uses of the word ‘prayer’ used in the UK and Israeli schools, respectively.

  2. 2.

    ‘God/gods’ might be best used throughout the chapter, but we use ‘God’ for convenience, recognising that the majority of participants in the research were Christian or Jewish. To make more general points, we also use ‘sacred or divine’, and this was used, in particular, in reports on the UK-based research.

  3. 3.

    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo6/7-8/31/contents/enacted.

  4. 4.

    Written responses are transcribed as written, rather than corrected.

  5. 5.

    Some of these implications have already been reported in Stern and Kohn 2019.

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Stern, J., Kohn, E. (2023). Prayer in Schools: In Search of a New Paradigm. In: Gross, Z. (eds) Reimagining the Landscape of Religious Education. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-20133-2_15

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-20133-2_15

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