Lay Education

We explain what secular or secular education is and what its characteristics are. Also, how is it different from religious education.

A girl studies in a secular educational institution
Secular education deals with a modern, scientific and rationalist formation.

What is secular education?

Secular education or secular education It is any educational model that is not based on religious precepts, nor is it associated with any particular church.. It is the exact opposite of religious education, in the sense that it does not deal with spiritual or theological issues, but deals with a modern, scientific and rationalist formation.

This does not mean that secular education teaches young people to be agnostics or atheists, or that it contradicts the moral precepts that come from a culture’s religious tradition. Rather, secular education does not adhere to any religious or mystical perspective, leaving these matters to the privacy of each person and dealing rather with the mundane aspects of existence, that is, the material and sensible world.

Secular education is typical of modern and secular states, in which church and state occupy different sociopolitical spheres. This type of educational systems is historically due to the philosophical current of liberalism, and its implementation throughout the 19th century was often the subject of controversy and dilemmas with the conservative sectors of society, who viewed the loss of the church’s political and social power in their nations with bad eyes.

See also: Secularization

Characteristics of secular education

In general terms, secular education is characterized by:

  • Not dealing with matters that concern faith and religious dogma, and lack a mystical or religious perspective regarding the rest of the teaching topics.
  • Approaching teaching from a modern point of view: democratic, secular, rational and scientific.
  • Not be in the hands of any religious group or church, but rather be regulated by the educational laws of the State, both in private and public institutions.
  • Avoid all forms of discrimination ethnic, religious, political, sexual, and gender issues within their academic community.
  • Be free and compulsory at its basic levelin secular countries. It can also be private.
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Differences between secular education and religious education

The main differences between secular education and religious education can be stated as follows:

Lay education Religious education
It is taught according to the educational laws of the State, and therefore its contents are decided by specialized pedagogical institutions and civil society itself. It is taught according to mystical or religious tradition and sacred texts, often according to the precepts of a specific monastic order.
It addresses the contents necessary for mundane life from a secular perspective, without delving into matters of faith. It addresses the contents necessary for mundane life from a religious perspective, as well as the contents of faith.
It does not defend or attack any religion, nor does it actively promote spiritual values. Their moral values ​​are those of civil society. He promotes and defends the spiritual and moral values ​​of his doctrine, often condemning those belonging to different creeds and cultures.
In secular countries it is free and compulsory at its basic level, dependent on public resources. It can also be private. It is generally private, although it can also be taught under public or semi-public schemes, especially in denominational nations.

Importance of secular education

A teacher at a secular educational institution teaches science to her students
Secular education is a vital instrument for the construction and support of the modern State.

Secular education is a vital instrument for the construction and support of the modern State, since it in it the democratic, cosmopolitan and universal values ​​of the modern world are imparted to the citizenemphasizing the rational, empirical and scientific view, and leaving matters of faith, the mystical and the supernatural to the free will of each person.

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In addition, the transition to secular education implied, in the history of the West, subtracting an important share of power from Christian institutions and hand it over to the State, so that it could follow the design of the majority and not a determined cultural tradition. The latter was especially important in multinational countries or the result of complex colonization and miscegenation processes, since it allowed an educational model in which their different identities, heritages, and traditions were recognized and validated.

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  • “Secular education” on Wikipedia.
  • “The objective of a secular education” by Pedro María Uruñuela at the Youth Institute of the Government of Spain.
  • “In defense of secular education” in Ademys Teachers Association (Argentina).