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Type: Journal article
Title: Schools, religion, and affect: unpacking Australian educator discomfort
Author: Memon, N.
Schulz, S.
Kelly, S.
Chown, D.
Citation: Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 2023; 51(3):266-282
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Issue Date: 2023
ISSN: 1359-866X
Statement of
Nadeem Memon, Samantha Schulz, Stephen Kelly and Dylan Chown
Abstract: Religious bigotry, including incidents of discrimination and violence based on religion, continues to rise across Australia. Religion is consequently considered a destabilising factor in Australia’s commitment to diversity. But does Australia’s religious diversity pose a threat to social cohesion or an opportunity? In Australia’s public schools, despite significant curricular and pedagogical advances in the areas of equity and inclusion, it remains unclear how and to what extent educators support the diverse religious identities of learners. Informed by an affective-discursive analytic, this study unpacks a series of emotional encounters at one primary public school in Sydney that serves a community where most families selfidentify with a religion. Educators were invited to discuss how their school responds to religious diversity. This article explores the discomforting affects that entangle liberal humanist commitments to freedoms and secular schooling that emerged in focus groups. The article argues that emotional responses to learners’ religious diversity, particularly of fear or apprehension, speak to a broader national teacher education context in which how religious and secular beliefs and knowledges should come into conversation remains unsettled. If Australian teacher education is to prepare educators for social cohesion, how can learners’ religious identities be genuinely included in curriculum and pedagogy?
Keywords: Schools; religion; affect; Australia
Description: Published 24 April 2023
Rights: © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.
DOI: 10.1080/1359866x.2023.2199449
Appears in Collections:Education publications

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