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Fellowship of fate and fellowships of faith Religious education and citizenship education Bert Roebben Faculty of Humanities and Theology Dortmund University,

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Presentation on theme: "Fellowship of fate and fellowships of faith Religious education and citizenship education Bert Roebben Faculty of Humanities and Theology Dortmund University,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Fellowship of fate and fellowships of faith Religious education and citizenship education Bert Roebben Faculty of Humanities and Theology Dortmund University, Germany



4 Overview of the presentation Introduction – We are fellows of fate, living in similar urban contexts. How can we co-exist as fellows of fate and be at the same time participants to particular fellowships of faith? 1. Education towards active citizenship and the relationship with religious identity 2. Critical voices and radical interruption – a theological vision of Europe 3. Inter-religious learning („learning as encounter” or “learning in difference”) as illustration Conclusion – The European challenge of the Donau

5 1a. Active citizenship in the modern city Modern citizenship means: being an active member of the modern city This is a contemporary translation of the Greek phronesis (discernment or practical reason): being critically but cooperatively response-able to the polis in which you life, together with others (relationship city-ethics-politics) Being self-reliant on the one hand, and contributing to the ‘common good’ and to social cohesion at the other hand “Someone who takes care for himself, who is not offensive to others and not frauding, who is respectful and caring for others, especially in his own environment – in short, the ideal neighbour” (a voice on the street in the NL) E.g. “city etiquette” in Rotterdam – creating a positive environment and life quality in the city

6 1b. Active citizenship education at school Stimulating children and adolescents to become gradually involved in response-ability to their living environment NL: focusing on democracy, participation and identity, in the broader framework of in-burgering of immigrants (e.g. the Dutch canon) (political dimension, under „ideological pressure“?) B: part of a wider set of educational goals that are school subject exceeding (learning to learn, social skills training, citizenship education, health education, environmental education) (educational dimension) – education toward/for citizenship (in Flemish: burger-zin): how to live democratically outside the classroom? UK: „relating children´s personal concerns to selected cultural material, extending their horizons beyond family and locality to the region and nation and, in turn, to wider European and global issues“ (Jackson 2006, 57) (intercultural dimension) (Leganger-Krogstad: „metacultural competence“ – Jans: „transparticularity“) D: intercultural and interreligious dialogue, on the basis of human rights (the right of religious freedom) in the city of Hamburg (religious dimension)

7 1c. Citizenship education: so far, so good? Critical voices The concept of citizenship education is neo-liberal and Euro-centered It is based on the ´no harm´ principle – we give each other the full opportunity to flourish, we are politically correct, as long as the other is not standing in ´my way´ of individualised self-expression Religions are part of that societal strategy – you can worship your own religion/life style, as long as you are not offensive or coercive to mine Religion in its positive form is functionally used to promote social cohesion Citizenship education is considered to be part of the contract of the school: parents and government pay teachers to deal with this complicated subject Citizenship education does not function after 9/11, it is much too soft: „Curricula based on high-minded principles of tolerance, understanding and empathy, also need something of a more hard-edged engagement for times when there are clashes between supposedly universal values such as human rights and culturally particular religious beliefs and/or moral values“ (Gearon 2006, 75) – contentious historical contexts are sidestepped Why to focus on solidarity and the common good? Why to be moral at all?


9 2a. Questions after the interruption Thom Geurts (2006) – what kind of schools do we want? School as mere accomodation to society or school as a ´community of values´ that challenges society? Fedor Kozyrev (2006) – what kind of religious communication do we want in the classroom? Necessary, structured or spiritual (as the meeting of souls, „like entering another coordinate system“)? John Caputo (1987) – what kind of ´fronesis´ do we want? For the old polis or for the new mega- or cosmo-polis, in which we are learning to live with differences, keeping ambiguity and undecidability in play and in view, without allowing false fixations ´above it´ (meta-fronesis)? Erik Borgman (2006) – it all comes down to the question: what kind of Europe do we want?

10 2b. European ‚fellowship of fate‘ or ‚lots- verbondenheid‘ (Erik Borgman 2004, 2006) Within the framework of a theology of culture – not only think about (the presence of) religion in society, but also think religiously about society (from the perspective of ‘living in dedication’, ‘sub ratione Dei’, ‘etsi Deus daretur’) Fellowship of fate after Auschwitz: solidarity in rebuilding Europe after World War II, pragmatic start of the EC in 1958 – our mission should be: not to have any mission statements/ideologies anymore – careful and respectful waiting for (receiving, welcoming) one another in permanent dialogue – in actually doing the dialogue, we shape a Europe-in-dialogue = remembering our conflicts and reinvigorating our strengths We should devote ourselves to this project with religious dedication (Vaclav Havel), which is completely different from economic dedication ´Maximum diversity in minimum space´ (Milan Kundera) (this is the definition, not the problem of Europe, according to Jan Figel, European ministry of culture and education) – this is not a task for religions and for RE (functional), this is a religious task as such (substantial)!

11 3a. European institutions, religion, RE Premodern Europe was the age of religious wars, modern Europe was the age of ideological conflicts, the postmodern age should be “the age of the free meeting of minds, prepared to contribute to a common historical project, on the basis of a cosmopolitan ethos” (E. Balducci, quoted by Pajer 2001): fellowship of fate “The Religious Dimension of Intercultural Education” (Oslo Declaration 2004, in the aftermath of 9/11) and Volga Declaration in 2006: every form of intercultural education is undeniably rooted in the moral and philosophical presuppositions and worldviews of the participants. This “dimension of conviction” needs to be elucidated in education and implies appropriate concepts of knowledge, learning attitudes and skills. Curricula, textbooks and teacher training are the direct access to this work of “cultural literacy” Need for a “program on the phenomenon and problem of religion supporting the cultural difference of all the pupils within the framework of their common citizenship” (Flavio Pajer 2001, consistent with Jacques Delors, The Treasure Within, 1996) Perception and interpretation of differences through encounter – interreligious learning (IRL) as part of the larger “hermeneutic awareness” in (post)modern education, of seeking sense in the city…

12 3b. RE in the secondary school in Western Europe RE influenced by the contemporary boost of reflexivity or accelerated hermeneutic awareness: ‘das Recht auf Denken über religiöses Denken’ (Friedrich Schweitzer) Young people as self-reliant learners, dealing with processes of interactive meaning giving (no more linear-chronological interpretation of moral and religious development) ‘Hermeneutic-communicative’ approaches in RE: learning to perceive religions/religiosity, to communicate about this perpectibility with others and to clarify one’s own point of view Dialogue with other belief systems in the depth of time (intergenerational), in the breadth of space (intercultural) and against the horizon of the future (global) Modern schools experience an appeal to their ‘response-abilty’ to the quest of young people, by offering them valid ‘mental detours’ (Paul Ricoeur)

13 3c. Multi- and inter-religious learning in RE Making into a theme and document Communicate Knowing the otherRespecting the other Learning about religion Learning from religion Multi-religious learning Inter-religious learning

14 ConceptScore (1=no, 5=yes) Multi-religious3.10 Inter-religious2.68 Mono-religious2.45 Confessional-religious2.29 (Roebben and van der Tuin 2004) The Netherlands in Religious Attitudes and Life Perspectives (RALP) (n = 816)

15 3d. Otherness of the other in the classroom Resistance within the learning process, “hermeneutic junctions and interpretation differences” (Herman Lombaerts): “That’s the way religious people give answers to issues of meaning giving, but how about you, sir/madam? Do not harmonise the learning process!” (multi) “How far can I walk in the moccasins of the other?” (Heinz Streib) – particular elements in the classroom can remain non-accessible and radically foreign to the learner (inter) Can I handle the communication? – the classroom may be not safe for diversity or students could run aground in testing the trustworthiness of the other (intra) Can I deal with this myself? – students can run into internal fallibilities (Hanan Alexander) or “holy envy” (Mary Boys)

16 3e. Learning by encounter: intra-religious learning “What do I have to learn from you, if we do not differ? Why should I learn anything at all, if it doesn’t make a difference where you come from, who you are and what you believe in? Defining moments in education occur when differences in interpretation come to the surface: you are different from me, you appeal to my imagination, your thoughts trigger mine, your ways are unknown to me, but yet I want to know you, you intrigue me. This is me, how about you?”  Learning by encounter  Learning ‘in the presence of the other’ (Mary Boys)  Learning in difference

17 (Halsall and Roebben 2006, 448) Learning about religionLearning from religionLearning in religion Multi-religious learningInter-religious learningIntra-religious learning Knowing the otherRespecting the otherKnowing/respecting myself DocumentationCommunicationConfrontation Heuristic competenceSocial competenceExistential competence

18 Intra-religious learning is a method of intensified teaching of religion. It constitutively deepens the hermeneutic dynamic of learning about religion through a communicative exchange between students in the classroom. The ‘other’ is then no longer the generalised other (the master narrative, the classical text or the great tradition), but the actual other, sitting next to me in the classroom (the small narrative, the ‘text’ of my fellow student, the tradition in her/his own mind). Intra-religious learning takes place, in the first instance, not between representatives of ideological groups from an outsider perspective, but rather in the inner dynamics of the quest for meaning of young people, in communication with other young people. This critical encounter reinforces the ability to look deeper into my own meaning-giving system and to explore further the existential resilience it offers and the internal contradictions. Through the intercultural and interfaith encounter I am challenged to redefine and re-dignify myself. This means: to know myself better and respect myself more, as a human person with dignity, who makes a difference in encounter with others. In this model ‘learning in difference’ and ‘learning on common ground’ – particularity and universality – come together (Halsall and Roebben 2006, 448).

19 3f. Elements for theological education and teacher training Training in classroom management: learning to perceive the (social, cultural, moral and religious) complexity and diversity of the local class groups (e.g. family and religious background) Training in particular (moral and religious) contents: acquiring knowledge and heuristic strategies (to find knowledge) on RE preferably focused on those religions who are actually present in the classroom and/or can be introduced through local representatives (learning about religion) Training in hermeneutical and communicative strategies for classroom discussion: adapting and interpreting the RE materials to particular life issues such as love, death, suffering, etc.; training oneself and students in perspective change (learning from religion) Training in the appropriation of moral and religious convictions in one’s own biography as RE teacher: coming to terms with a personal spiritual synthesis and narrative identity (learning in religion).

20 Conclusion: the metaphor of the Donau (Borgman 2006, 163)


22 References E. Borgman, The ‘New’ Europe: a Spiritual Gesture, in Concilium (2004) 2, 33-41. E. Borgman, Metamorfosen. Over religie en moderne cultuur, Kampen/Kapellen, 2006. J.D. Caputo, Radical Hermeneutics. Repetition, Deconstruction, and the Hermeneutic Project, Bloomington, 1987. L. Gearon, The Teaching of Human Rights in RE: the Case of the Genocide, in D. Bates, G. Durka and F. Schweitzer (eds.), Education, Religion and Society. Essays in Honour of John M. Hull, London/New York, 2006, 71-82. Th. Geurts, Heeft burgerschapsvorming burgerrecht in school?, in Reflexief 5 (2006) 2, 23-27. A. Halsall and B. Roebben, Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue Through Education, in Religious Education 101 (2006) 4, 443-452. R. Jackson, Intercultural Education and RE: a Changing Relationship, in D. Bates, G. Durka and F. Schweitzer (eds.), Education, Religion and Society, 49-61. F. Kozyrev, The Roles of Dialogue in RE: a Russian Perspective, in D. Bates, G. Durka and F. Schweitzer (eds.), Education, Religion and Society, 215-227. F. Pajer, Multifaith Education in the Europe of Tomorrow: a Civic Responsibility for Universities and Schools, in B. Roebben and M. Warren (eds.), Religious Education as Practical Theology, Leuven/Paris/Sterling, 2001, 191-216. B. Roebben and L. van der Tuin, Mapping the Roads of Transcendence. RE in a Multicultural Society, in D. Nauer, R. Nauta and H. Witte (eds.), Religious Leadership and Christian Identity, Münster, Lit-Verlag, 2004, 130-142.

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