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Title: An investigation into the relevance of J.H. Newman's 'Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent' for the practice and development of Key Stage Three religious education in a Catholic school
Author: Gray, Alison
ISNI:       0000 0001 3512 3009
Awarding Body: Open University
Current Institution: Open University
Date of Award: 2007
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This study investigates the principles and arguments of JH Newman's Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent. Newman argued that the mind receives impressions of revealed truth, which form a real and permanent inward knowledge that may be recognised implicitly or explicitly by those who possess it. This recognition is considered by Newman to be an insight into the act of assent to religious belief before it can be understood and explained. According to Newman's epistemology as articulated in the Grammar (in the principles of perception, apprehension, assent and inference, first principles, conscience, certitude and the illative sense) the human person can believe without understanding and proof. This is the hypothesis that is the driving force of this study that uses bracketing to isolate Key Stage Three (11-14 years) pupil insights in accord with qualitative research methods. The pupils of a Catholic Comprehensive in the Greater London area in this study discovered and experimented with age-old and contemporary conventions within the domain of the Philosophy of Religion in response to problem-solving tasks set on the doctrine of the Trinity. This teaching and learning took place long before a secular educational paradigm driven by stage theory would consider feasible. The perception of doctrine as provocative educational materials that the Catholic Church enforces through the processes of indoctrination is not verified in this study. The cognitive challenges of doctrine were found to be no more or less than the cognitive capacities of students. Teaching methodology needs to take a strong account of the teacher as expert as well as the teacher as facilitator of learning. Newman's epistemology reveals the human person as a believing person demonstrating the inherent capacity to believe is critical to an understanding of how pupils learn in religious and non-religious matters.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral