New Book: Childhood, Religion and School Injustice

Childhood, Religion and School Injustice
Karl Kitching

Debates about religion and education internationally often presume the neutrality of secular education governance as an irrefutable public good. However, understandings of secular freedom, rights and neutrality in schooling are continuously contested, and social movements have disrupted the notion that there is a uniform public to be educated. Simultaneously, unjust, neoliberal and majoritarian education policies constantly undermine collective notions of what is good and just.

May 2020 | 9781782053880 | €39 £35| Hardback |234 x 156mm| 268 pages

Childhood, Religion and School Injustice (CRSI) gives voice and space to experiences of religion that have too long been overlooked in scholarship. This book will shift debates surrounding, and practices within, Irish schools and in this respect it is an incredibly significant contribution to knowledge. More than this, Kitching provides new ways for thinking about entanglements of time, space and religion: showing how children change religious ideas and practices and how children are also shaped so clearly by religion. This is a profound intervention into how religion can be understood and the agency of children can be conceived. This book is insightful, engaging, and an absolute must-read for those interested in children, religion, schooling or social justice -Professor Anna Hickey-Moody (RMIT University Melbourne)

This book presents original empirical research on how religious and secular schools are positioned as competitors for parents’ attention, and shows how inequalities shape parents’ interest in, and access to, secular/religious schools. Kitching particularly explores how children in urban and rural settings negotiate the joys, pleasures, paradoxes and injustices of schooling and childhood. He outlines ways in which children’s social position, relationships and encounters with religious and consumer objects inform who they can become, and who and what they value.

Drawing on the above research, Childhood, Religion and School Injustice demonstrates the need to engage with each child’s plurality, and to recognise multiple inequalities experienced by families across schools. Given that the mass privatisation and deregulation of schooling favours majority and advantaged social groups, Kitching argues for the becoming public of school systems and localities. In such a process, majoritarian, narrow self-interest is challenged, unchosen obligations to others are recognised, and collective imaginings of what a ‘good’ childhood is, are publicly engaged.

Karl Kitching is Director of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and Senior Lecturer in Education, University College Cork