Creating a safe place: SRE teaching as an act of security and identity formation in government schools in Australia

Zehavit Gross, Suzanne D. Rutland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


This study seeks to analyse the components that contribute to Special Religious Education (SRE) classes in government schools in Australia being considered as a 'safe place' and the ways in which they facilitate an understanding of the students' own religious and cultural identity. Our research focuses on one of the small faiths, Judaism, as a case study through observation of the Jewish SRE/SRI classes in the two largest Jewish population centres, Sydney and Melbourne. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 90 participants, and classroom observations were undertaken in both cities. This paper draws on Kymlicka's concept of the rights of minority groups in a liberal society and discusses the distinction between thin and thick multiculturalism. Our findings show that the Jewish SRE teachers implemented Jackson's interpretive approach, ensuring that the students' educational experience is meaningful. As a result, they are able to develop their unique identity capital, which is important in a multifaith society to ensure 'thick' multiculturalism. Our argument is that students need to have an understanding of their own particularistic identity, as well as learning to respect other religions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)30-46
Number of pages17
JournalBritish Journal of Religious Education
Issue number1
Early online date1 Apr 2015
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Christian Education.


  • Minorities
  • Multiculturalism
  • Safe place
  • Special religious education


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