Signposts – a guide to Religious and Intercultural Education

signpostssThe European Wergeland Centre (EWC) is a resource centre for education professionals, researchers, civil society, policymakers, parents and students. This resource centre has made available an important document for policy and practice for teaching about religions and non-religious worldviews. A download link is given.

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A New Settlement: Religion and Belief in Schools

wfdThe Westminster Faith Debates bring together leading academic and public figures to debate the latest research on religion and values. The debates have been funded by generous grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, and Lancaster University. Here, we bring the summary of an ongoing Religious Education debate in the UK.

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Can Christianity learn from Buddhism?

mfasak1Could Christianity’s future lie in Buddhism’s past? This is a possibility that’s been haunting me lately, but in a good way, I think.
One big critique, understandably, of postmodern views on Christian spirituality is that there’s too much time and energy spent deconstructing old systems and ways of thinking that need to be torn down or reimagined, while lacking the same effort to build up something more helpful — more Christ-like — in its place.

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Education and Security: The Challenge of Religious Diversity

tbffThe Tony Blair Faith Foundation and McGill University are delighted to announce an intensive training course entitled ‘Education and Security: The Challenge of Religious Diversity’. The course will take place in Montreal, Canada from 15-20 June and applications are currently welcomed from security, policy, education and development professionals and researchers. The course consists of a series of workshops which will explore policy options for countering religious extremism through effective education that promotes open-mindedness, understanding and dialogue within often complex faith-based and secular contexts.

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Time for change: a new role for religion in education

challengeAfter the recent High Court challenge verdict on funding chaplains in schools, religious education is back in the headlines.

The role of religion in Australian schools has been vigorously debated for more than a century. Recent events including the landmark High Court case, the pending Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) case outcome in Victoria, the decision to review Special Religious Education programs in NSW, and the move towards a National Curriculum all highlight the need to examine the role of religion in Australia’s schools.

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Academics call for review of school religious teaching

Religious Education

RELIGIOUS education in state schools must be replaced by a multifaith version that includes different ethical traditions and be taught by trained teachers rather than volunteers, says a new network of academics.

The Religions, Ethics and Education Network Australia has written to Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu, New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell and the respective education ministers seeking an urgent review of religious education so changes can be included in the new national curriculum.

The letter is signed by academics Gary Bouma (also an Anglican priest) and Anna Halafoff from Monash University and Cathy Byrne and Marion Maddox from Macquarie University.

According to the group, the current model (volunteers teaching about Christianity) is exclusivist and at odds with government aims to promote social inclusion. This model, which reaches about half the children in state schools, is becoming controversial, and three parents have complained to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission that it is discriminatory.

”The problem with SRI (special religious instruction, the current program) is that it’s not education about religions but education into a particular religion,” Dr Halafoff said yesterday.

”We are living in a multifaith society, and religion is playing a broader role, so we need to encourage religious literacy.”

She said ignorance about religions could lead to prejudice, while narrow religious messages could heighten social tensions.

Religions for Peace chairman Professor Des Cahill said the interfaith group would support a review. ”Half an hour a week by volunteers is far from perfect, but it’s better than nothing. [The subject] would fit in with the civics and citizenship subject being mooted as part of the national curriculum,” he said.

Dr Halafoff said minority religions do offer education, and Victoria had Baha’i, Jewish and Greek Orthodox programs, but children still got only one perspective.

Dr Halafoff said Access Ministries, Victoria’s main provider, was wrong to claim objections to the existing model came from only humanists; diverse faith and cultural groups objected, as well as some academics.

Source: The Age