The criteria of transformation of Statement Two

In order to explore the characteristics of Statement Two, and particularly the extent to which it is original (or novel) within the ICE report, and programmatic, we must consider how it is presented there. First we must consider where in the report the statement is found and what this reveals about its novelty and intent.

Overall, the Report was split into nine substantive chapters (which mirrors the structure of the information gathered). These are preceded by some introductory material that sets out the ‘Origin and Purpose of the Inquiry’.59 In this very first section, the report presents a simplistic binary understanding of ‘success’ in implementation of the religious provisions of the 1944 Act. On the one hand, ‘There were the pessimists who declared that the statutory demands would not be taken seriously, and that things would be much as before’.60 On the other hand, ‘There were optimists who thought that the future of every child leaving school would certainly possess a creditable knowledge of the Bible and the Christian faith and would be well on the way towards Church membership’.61 This understanding of success in RE permeates the whole document, being implicit throughout. At one point, in reiterating the link, the authors appeal to a pamphlet, published in 1949 by the Ministry of Education, to justify their claim that ‘Christian belief and practice arc the most secure foundations for the building of a true and enduring citizenship’.62

The introductory material not only conveys a very particular interpretation of the 1944 Act, it also reveals the ideological position upon which the report is built. This is further confirmed by the remainder of the document, which evidences a situation where Christianity occupies a dominant position; the analysis of agreed syllabuses, for example, was based entirely on frameworks such as ‘The Biblical Order’ or ‘Biblical Doctrine’, and no mention is made in this section of any worldview other than Christianity.63

Beyond the initial and implicit claim that ‘success’ in RE is linked directly with Christian practice beyond the school, there are only a few moments where the association is made explicit. One of those is to be found early in the first chapter of the Report. Here the authors claim that ‘Several of the agreed syllabuses say explicitly that worship and religious instruction at school should help boys and girls to find their way into membership of the Christian Church.’64 This statement has already been identified as Statement Two. So, in compliance with the practise of Statement Archaeology, and in pursuit of our question ‘how did it become possible for “making little Christians” to be a legitimate aim for RE in the period after the 1944 Education Act?’, we now consider in more detail the originality and programmatic nature of Statement Two.

Assessing the originality of Statement Two

It may appear that Statement Two is not original to the ICE report on the basis that a note makes a link to the Introduction to the Lindsey Agreed Syllabus. In its original form, the extract from the Lindsey Syllabus says:

It is hoped that the atmosphere of school worship and the new approach to religious instruction will increasingly lead pupils to become and remain full members of a worshiping community outside the school. If it does not, we should judge that as religious education it has failed.65

This extract was first brought to the attention of the ICE Council in October 1952, when Ycaxlee brought it for consideration in response to a request made to the Research Department by the London County Council Standing Advisory Committee on Religious Education, which will be discussed later in this chapter.66 This reveals something about the route by this extract was brought to the report. The content of the Lindsey Syllabus, being published in 1952, could not have been included in the 1951 survey of such documents undertaken by the ICE Research Committee. It may well have been included in the replication of this survey in 1953, but by then it was firmly in the purview of both the ICE Council and, more pertinently, Yeaxlee.

Further, we can conclude quite quickly that the notion of connecting success in RE with church membership so explicitly is not new with the Lindsey Syllabus. For example, similar suggestions are set out in articles within the professional Journal Religion in Education, the discourse of the British Council of Churches Education Department, and—as we have seen here and in the previous chapter—parliamentary debates before the passing of the 1944 Act.

Taking a step further back suggests that the link was not so explicit in the pre-war period. For example, the 1938 Spcns Report argued for the expansion of the use of agreed syllabuses and provided a lengthy discussion on the place of‘Scripture’ within the curriculum (and noted ‘with satisfaction the foundation in 1935 of the Institute of Christian Education’).67 However,

Making little Christians 59 it clearly articulated that such study should aim for an objective approach, advocating Biblical study, and be undertaken in a ‘historical and objective manner’.68 Further, it highlights the importance of appropriately qualified teachers (such qualification based on their scholarship of Christianity and Biblical knowledge, rather than their personal confessional position).69

Here it is worth taking a methodological pause and reminding ourselves of what we are actually searching for here; the relative beginning of what? Our guiding question regarding Statement Two is ‘how did it become possible for “making little Christians” to be a legitimate aim for RE in the period after the 1944 Education Act?’ The relative beginning we arc searching for, then, is the point at which there is a clear discontinuity, a point of differentiation, which marks out the new practice as being separate from prevailing practice. In short, is this the point at which attempts to make the connection between RE and church membership a legitimate aim really become established?

Firstly we consider the Lindsey syllabus itself. There is a possibility that this is the first post-1944 agreed syllabus document that makes the link so explicitly. This claim is hard to justify directly from the agreed syllabus documents, as many arc no longer in existence. However, whilst we cannot claim categorically through comparison that Lindsey is the first syllabus to make this claim, we can explore the issue from another perspective.

In the ICE report, Statement Two is immediately followed by an in-text note that guides the reader to compare the claim made with the content of §35.70 The implication is that §35 will set out the supporting case. That paragraph reads thus:

Increasing attention is paid in [agreed syllabuses from 1940 onwards] to worship and the aim of teaching is declared to be that children should understand and accept the Christian faith and follow the Christian way of life, while in more recent syllabuses the hope is expressed that school worship and religious instruction will, in the words of the Introduction to the Lindsey syllabus, “increasingly lead pupils to become and remain full members of a worshipping community outside the school”.71

Yet here only one specific document—the Lindsey syllabus—is cited. Within the same paragraph, other syllabus documents arc named. For example, the syllabus for Carlisle, Cumberland, and Westmorland is mentioned in relation to those syllabuses which ‘preface the courses themselves with a “handbook” of considerable length in which a section on the place of doctrine and an outline of Christian faith and practice come first’.72 Further, within the paragraph there is a frequent use of general terms like ‘many syllabuses’, ‘Syllabuses show’, and ‘few syllabuses’. No other syllabuses are cited as supporting the claim made in Statement Two.

Considering firstly, the degree of detailed analysis of the content and structure of agreed syllabuses from across the country that was undertaken and, secondly, the way in which in many other paragraphs of the Reportthere is a very limited use of general terms with more syllabuses being named specifically, it might be reasonable to suggest that Statement Two was an overstatement of the position. This might, then, suggest that the Lindsey syllabus was one of the first, if not the first, agreed syllabuses to make such a claim about the link between RE and church membership; it seems safe to conclude that had the report’s authors been aware of other examples they would have included them.

If we combine this with the addition to the Lindsey extract, which argues that ‘Several of the agreed syllabuses’ make the same claim and consider its rhetorical purpose, we must conclude that the addition is intended to develop legitimacy through the implication that the stated practice is more widespread than in reality it is. (This is a not uncommon rhetorical device that we are used to hearing but not always attentive to.)

Thus, it seems reasonable to conclude that whilst Statement Two is not entirely original, it may still mark a point of differentiation. The repetition of the clause from Lindsey syllabus is augmented by the claim that several syllabuses take such a view, although unsubstantiated. But what does appear to be novel here is that the Lindsey syllabus may well be the first agreed syllabus document to include this aim explicitly. Alone, this is a small, incremental step, but—as we shall sec later—such small steps can combine.

 
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