This chapter presents a broad overview of scholarly research into the ways religion can affect educational achievement.It is not an exhaustive survey of the academic literature, but instead a brief summary of some explanations proposed to account for attainment differences among religious groups.Education became primarily the study of established, traditional religious and legal canons.
This chapter presents a broad overview of scholarly research into the ways religion can affect educational achievement.It is not an exhaustive survey of the academic literature, but instead a brief summary of some explanations proposed to account for attainment differences among religious groups.
It concludes with a look at some leading theories for the stark differences in educational attainment between Christians and Muslims living in sub-Saharan Africa.
Contemporary access to schooling – a solid pathway to educational attainment – depends on a country’s educational infrastructure.
This section also explores how historical patterns sometimes help explain contemporary patterns in educational attainment.
Next, this chapter considers hypotheses about how the cultural norms and doctrines of a religious group may affect educational attainment.
These events included foreign invasions, first by the Mongols, who destroyed the House of Wisdom in 1258, and then by Christians, who pushed Muslims out of Spain in 1492.
Some scholars argue that the educational decline began earlier, in the 11th and 12th centuries, and was rooted in institutional changes.In the Middle East and Europe, Christian monks built libraries and, in the days before printing presses, preserved important earlier writings produced in Latin, Greek and Arabic.In many cases, these religious monasteries evolved into universities.Protestant reformers promoted literacy because of their contention that everyone needed to read the Bible, which they viewed as the essential authority on doctrinal matters.Driven by this theological conviction, religious leaders urged the building of schools and the translation of the Bible into local languages – and Reformation leader Martin Luther set the example by translating the Bible into German.Some scholars argue that the decline in secular learning and the narrowing of intellectual inquiry among Muslims have been exaggerated, or did not take place.Columbia University history professor George Saliba writes: “In particular, the decline of Islamic science, which was supposed to have been caused by the religious environment … On the contrary, if we only look at the surviving scientific documents, we can clearly delineate a very flourishing activity in almost every scientific discipline” after the 12th century.In particular, contends Harvard University Associate Professor of Economics Eric Chaney, the decline was caused by an increase in the political power of religious leaders who prioritized Islamic religious learning over scientific education.Their growing influence helped bring about a crucial shift in the Islamic approach to learning: It became dominated by the idea that divine revelation is superior to other types of knowledge, and that religious education should consist of learning only what Islamic scholars had said and written in the past.Religion and education, two of humankind’s most ancient endeavors, have long had a close relationship.Historians and social scientists have written about this relationship and about how the two may influence each other.