This report presents seven key findings from a wider research study of childhood and social change in the Republic of Ireland. The study is called ‘Making Communion: Disappearing and Emerging Forms of Childhood in Ireland’. The report focuses specifically on children’s beliefs, values, and the forms of belonging available to them in religious and non-religious terms across a range of settings. It centralises children’s own interpretations of their lives and worlds.
The report demonstrates that 7-8 year old children are highly diverse in religious and non-religious terms. They actively make sense of their own worlds, placing different emphases on sacred understandings, popular culture, media and consumer items from within and outside school. Their understandings, beliefs and values are place-specific however. School type, urban/rural location, gender and family religious, ethnic and social class background mediate their views and their sense of belonging to school and amongst peers. Given its structuring into the school and ‘coming of age’ experiences of most children in Ireland, we suggest First Holy Communion continues to have a significant but not totalising role in ‘benchmarking’ a child’s life and experience of belonging at a particular point in time in Ireland.
The report is authored by Dr. Karl Kitching, School of Education UCC (Principal Investigator) and Dr. Yafa Shanneik, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Chester and formerly of the Study of Religions Department UCC.
The report is written for schools and families. It will also be of interest to education policy makers, teacher educators, teacher unions, religious, atheist, humanist and philosophical communities, and children’s advocacy groups.
Please click on the image on the right hand side of this page, or click here on Childrens Beliefs Report (733kB) to access the document in PDF format.