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Religious education, multicultural education and Finnish school policy Anna-Leena Riitaoja Ph. D. Student Department of Applied Sciences of Education University.

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Presentation on theme: "Religious education, multicultural education and Finnish school policy Anna-Leena Riitaoja Ph. D. Student Department of Applied Sciences of Education University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Religious education, multicultural education and Finnish school policy Anna-Leena Riitaoja Ph. D. Student Department of Applied Sciences of Education University of Helsinki, Finland Conference on Diversity and Global Education 25. –

2 My background  Family backgound Several different religious contexts (inside Christianity and sceularism) School – otherness: stranger in familiar  As a student teacher religion was seen often as a problem… …or seen only in very superficial way confusing (not a problem from my point of view)

3 My background…  Ph.D.research on multicultural education in primary schools in Helsinki  One of the interesting aspects: Religious education as a part of multicultural education  Preliminary ideas -> aim to develope them to an article Perhaps some empirical material needed  All comments are welcome

4 Theoretical startpoint Banks’(2001) model of multicultural education Extensive model Critical viewpoint is important To me multicultural education means all educational activity which aims to rise to the challenges of global world and multicultural society 1.Content integration 2. The knowledge construction process 3. Prejudice Reduction:4. An equity Pedagogy 5. An empowering school culture and social structure Multicultural education

5 Space of religions in multicultural education?  What is the space of religion in multicultural education?  How a researcher / a teacher understands her own religious / non- religious background as a part of her identity as a multicultural educator?  Banks’ dimension of knowledge construction is interesting How the position of religion is constructed in society and in education? Are religions and religious knowledge valuable?

6 Religions as diversity  Religion seen as a form of diversity… … BUT NOT as a frame of reference  In the ME theory: not discussed or discussed in a superficial level only  Religions seen in a negative way (Hoosain & Salili 2006).

7 Different forms of diversity and cultural layers  The layers of culture (Trompenaars & Hampden-Turner 1997)  Religion belongs to several layers Deepest level: basic assumptions – meaning of life  If we concentrate only on the external side of religion, the meaning of religion as the frame of reference is not recognised basic assumptions, (implicit) norms and values explicit artifacts and products

8 The ideology behind multicultural education?  The theory of ME based on Western viewpoint religion is not important (Impact of Enlightment)  ”Multicultural literacy is dominated by a Western paradigm and perspectives” (Bokhorst-Heng 2007).  Western viewpoint is based mainly on liberalism (Parekh 2000) not accomodative for ethnic or religious diversity.  Separation of public (”neutral”) and personal sphere (Kiwan 2007)

9 Secular liberalism  An ideological viewpoint  As committed as religions (picture)  If one’s own secular frame of reference is not recognised possible to understand only the external signs of religions enables false conceptions about common viewpoint unrecognised looking glasses: misunderstandings (eg. Muhammed cartoons) AR1R2R3R4R5SP R4 Secularism R1R2R3R4R5 Pluralism R1R2R3R5 Atheism R1R2R3R4R5

10 Understanding (other) religions  Understanding of new / other religious frame of reference requires a transformative experience Transformative experience is based on learning in a deep level a (Mezirow 1991, Taylor 1994, Räsänen 2005) Religions include aspect of experience - spirituality Operate with fundamental and transformative questions of existence and life ”If religions is to be taken seriously, due attention must be given to the transcendent aspect of religious experience, practice, belief and doctrine”. (Wright 2004, 211)  Religious education has to be critical (Wright 2004, 214).

11 Examples  A person with a Western secular worldview trying to understand the comprehensiveness and holistic nature of Islam  African Christian trying to understand Finnish secular Christianity as true Christianity

12 Religions as a part of multicultural aducation and school policy in Finland  In the Finnish research of multi- / intercultural education religions has not had much space  The Finnish school policy, National Core curriculum (2004: ”Perusopetuksessa eri oppiaineiden opetus on poliittisesti sitoutumatonta ja uskonnollisesti tunnustuksetonta. ” ”In basic education, instruction in the different subjects is nondenominational and plotically neutral.” The definition ignores the social and ideological context of knowledge construction (Banks 2001; Puolimatka 2004). The starting point is secular.  Finnish Christian traditions are seen important but the deeper level of cultural religious traditions – the frame of reference religions offer – leaves without consideration.

13 Schools  A lot of public and policy discussion about festivals having a Christian background During the past years: eliminating of Christian traditions Now: Christian traditions are a part of Finnish cultural tradition  None of these viewpoints catch the deeper level of religions as a frame of reference

14 In practice  For a teacher important to recognise her own religious or non-religious background understanding her own and dealing with other frames of reference (eg. Räsänen 2005)  A certain pluralism is needed when studying religions (all views are appreciated and not judged). Despite the common aspects in all religions, there are also differences All people, also teachers, come from some frame of reference and these can be discussed together in school.

15 In practice…  The three current aspects to religious education Education for Commitment Education about Religion Open-ended exploration of world views of philosophies of life (Hobson & Edwards 1999, 19) Non-confessional religious education should not be only relativistic comparison from the viewpoint of secular worldview The emotional experiences are important for transformative learning: also spirituality is needed RE Spirituality is connected with cultural identity and its reflection is an essential part of critical multicultural education (Tisdell 2006)  Critical but also emotional religious education as a part of multicultural education gives possibilities to understand people with different frame of reference

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