Clare Jarmy, Bedales Head of PRE and Head of A,G & T, Scholars and Oxbridge, has had two peer-reviewed academic papers published in recent months.
The first: Subject knowledge: the ‘knowledge-rich’ agenda, Buber and the importance of the knowing subject in Religious Education was published in the British Journal of Religious Education, one of the best-known and most respected journals in the field, internationally.
The second paper ‘Neath the Moth‐Eaten Rag: Do Artefacts Play a Special Role for Historical Knowledge? Is out on early view in the Journal of the Philosophy of Education, again, a journal at the forefront of research in the field, and asks a simple question: ‘do students gain knowledge from artefacts?’
The first concerns knowledge, and what that means when teaching about religion. Lots of people are happy to talk about knowledge as though it’s prior to knowing, as though there can be knowledge without knowers. Clare proposes focus on the person who has the knowledge, the knower. In learning about religion, the learner is key, because her conceptual world is different from her neighbour’s. We cannot treat the subject matter as a bunch of facts, but have to come to relate to that way of seeing the world.
The second article was prompted by the way a Bedalian responded to the Florence trip a few years ago. So often, what a student gains from seeing an artefact, typically in a museum, depends on what they already know. If they already know about it, they can get something from the experience, but if they do not have their experience framed with past knowledge or good resources, they can gain very little. What is special about artefacts? What can we learn from them? Clare was lucky to be selected to give a workshop about the subject at the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain annual conference in Oxford at the end of March, the funnest part of which was surely when she asked a room of academics to try and identify mystery objects from museum collections!