Reflecting on the use of Statement Archaeology in other fields

In the light, then, of the guidance offered in Chapter 1, the worked examples throughout the book, and the discussions above, what are the central issues that the aspiring Statement Archaeologist should be aware of? Here I suggest some foci for reflection: What might the method reasonably achieve? What ethical issues need to be considered? What potential developments might affect the use of Statement Archaeology?

What might Statement Archaeology reasonably achieve in your work?

The deployment of Statement Archaeology here, confirming earlier work, demonstrates the degree to which the approach is efficacious.52 The method is robust, coherent, and here has exposed things that hitherto have not been identified in the history of English Religious Education by those using more traditional methods. Emphatically, this is not to claim that only this method could reveal these things; whilst other methods may have the potential to, that potential has so far not been realized. In particular, Statement Archaeology has achieved a number of things. Statement Archaeology has, though a forensically detailed analysis of primary source statements, drawn attention to the effects of complex and multiple interaction between different domains of discourse. This has exposed a much higher level of complexity relating to the introduction and maintenance of compulsory provision of RE than has been hitherto recognized. It has made it possible to begin to identify the ideas and systems of thought, and their origins and routes of transmission, that lay behind the policies, as demonstrated by the specific findings set out in previous chapters.

The use of Statement Archaeology has specifically shown the dynamics of authority to be far more complex than has hitherto been acknowledged. This is illustrated in discussions about the changing nature of relationship between Church and State, and between State policy and the practice of policy actors and the consequent effects on the relationships between Church, State, and school. The hitherto under-explored role of certain policy influencers, such as Maurice Holmes (Chapter 2) and Colin Alves (Chapters 3 and 4) has been unearthed. Further, although some groups can be seen to act as gatekeepers of particular discourses, their role as such waxes and wanes and systems of authority are seen as dynamic rather than static, monolithic structures. Thus the detailed and rigorous exploration of statements has the capacity to expose the fact that there is not any one authoritative structure, but multiple routes by which practices become normalized and multiple motivations that lie behind such processes of normalization.

Through this unremitting focus on statements, a complexity of terminology has also been exposed; this becomes especially clear when examining the intersections of domains of discourse, where the lack of precision over terminology further complicates analysis. For example, here above a lack of precision in terms such as confessional, indoctrinatory and proselytizational has been highlighted (Chapter 3); Elsewhere, Statement Archaeology has unearthed a similar terminological complexity'.53 The very term ‘religious education’ has often been used without any' adequate discussion of meaning and the notions conveyed by the term have been ill-differentiated and applied inconsistently; distinctions between phase (primary or secondary) and types of school (state-maintained; with a religious character or without) have been overlooked. There has been a similar lack of separation between content and pedagogy. More widely, there has been a fluidity of meanings associated with terms such as ‘education’ in certain global discourses; and in relation to pluralism and immigration. This is not a criticism of the ruling scholarship alone. As well as those terms already discussed, there are many' examples of inappropriate homogenization of terms, resulting in a lack of distinction, for example, between RE as classroom teaching, and RE as Collective Worship.54

However, Statement Archaeology' acts to foreground the vital importance of being attentive to the terms used and the meanings associated with them; in short, it has exposed the need for a much more considered use of language in historical enquiry. That the laxity over terminology is seen in both the primary and secondary sources is no justification for the perpetuation of the lack of conceptual clarity'. Rather we should expose, and historicize, the issues.

As well as revealing a hitherto overlooked complexity and highlighting linguistic laxity, Statement Archaeology, by being a forensically detailed analysis which includes wide domains of discourse, also serves to problcmatizc aspects of current historiographies, particularly those which are currently taken for granted and/or accepted without examination. This has been illustrated at a number of points in the narrative set out in the previous chapters. More centrally, the use of Statement Archaeology in this context has enabled the question ‘How did the introduction and maintenance of the compulsory provision of RE in English schools become possible?’ to be answered. In short, the method does what it sets out to do.

There is a wide range of topics to which Statement Archaeology could usefully be applied. For example, there is scope for this method to be deployed in a wide range of spheres, both within educational history, the development of educational policy, and social sciences more widely. Such usefulness is not limited to British policy development and the method has potential applications across and beyond national borders. With the emphasis on how practices become possible, there are endless possibilities on where the method could usefully be applied, as diverse as the maturation of geriatrics as a medical specialism; the evolution of national curricula; and the development of professionalism.

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