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Friedrich Schweitzer

This paper gives an overview on the present situation of religious education at home and in the church, with the main emphasis on the Protestant perspective. The author reviews the empirical research available in this field, and an international study on confirmation activities in seven European countries that was completed in 2010 is presented in more detail. The empirical results are interpreted with reference to the contemporary discussion on religion and society or culture. In addition to the description and interpretation of the situation, the author discusses the relationship between religious education at home and in the church on the one hand and the requirements for living in a pluralistic environment on the other. He concludes that religious education at home and in the church should be complemented by religious education in the school.


Mualla Selçuk

Within the pluralistic character of society and the modern school, students are seeking a different kind of understanding about the relationship between their religious traditions and life. This affects Islamic religious education in many aspects, including its aims, its programs, and approach to teaching in the classroom. Recently, religious education has not been an activity of faith transfer but a matter of passing on new perspectives into the context in which the individual stands. Therefore, the teachers should strive to teach their students to live with the demands of plurality and modernity present in their world today. This paper will advance some insights on the methodological problem of communicating the Qur’anic text by introducing a communicative model of teaching in teacher training. The communicative model of teaching is a kind of reflection on the text of the Qur’an within the subject in its historical and contemporary contexts. It starts from the question: What is textual and what is contextual? This paper aims to present a communicative model of teaching, taking the Qur’anic concept of “people of the book” as an example.


Ina ter Avest

The Dutch secularized, individualized, and multicultural (also called post-pillarized) society is the background for our study on religious education (RE) practices in a pluralistic context. Three teachers in three different types of religious primary schools (a Protestant, a Muslim, and a Roman Catholic school) are presented in their everyday classroom practice of religious education (RE) with pupils from different ethnic, social and religious backgrounds. These examples are analysed and reflected upon. We come to the conclusion that -to prepare the pupils for their participation in the multicultural and multireligious society – teachers should not only "practise what they preach" but even more "preach what they practise." We recommend more research on the relationship between the biography of the teachers and her/his pedagogical strategies in the classroom. In addition, more research is needed on the development of teachers’ competencies for meta-communication with their pupils on their everyday practice of RE in the multicultural and multireligious classroom.


Dihyatun Masqon Ahmad

This paper outlines the historical development of the pondok pesantren, a type of Islamic educational boarding school in Java. The main characteristic of this school is its distinct approach toward modernizing Islamic education by using the integrated system of non-formal and informal education of the pondok pesantren on the one hand and formal education on the other. The pondok pesantren consists of four elements. (1) The kiai is a spiritual and holistic leader and teacher who gives lectures to (2) the santri (students). (3) The Pondok is a dormitory where santri live and study under the guidance of the kiai and sometimes under the supervision of senior santri. (4) The mosque is present as a space for education, worship (ibadah), learning Islamic textbooks and conducting social activities. In recent decades the pondok pesantren has developed a new Islamic educational system with new instructional methods, especially the teaching of Arabic and English. Also, a new institutional system was introduced to replace the dominant ineffective traditional management by the kiai. This was achieved by making the new pesantran system a waqf (religious endowment) so it was no longer the property of the founders or their descendants.

Reaching for the Sky

Religious Education from Christian and Islamic Perspectives


Edited by Stella El Bouayadi-van de Wetering and Siebren Miedema

Young people have to make their own way in the world; they have to give meaning to and find meaning in their lives. This is the field of religious education, which is provided by parents, religious leaders, or teachers of religion and worldviews. One of the most important challenges is to educate children in their own religion, emphasizing that religion’s tolerant and peaceful side and to teach children about the beliefs of other traditions. An even more important challenge is to teach them to live together in peace and justice. This volume deals with religious education in Christianity and Islam in specific countries. Scholars in religious education need to know more about the ways in which Muslims and Christians perceive and practice their respective forms of religious education and explore methods that help young people develop their religious identity in accordance with their tradition—and also meet with comrades from other traditions, as the two young Gambian and Dutch women shown on the cover do.
This volume explores the field of Christian and Islamic education. Muslim and Christian scholars from Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, Indonesia, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands describe various aspects of religious education at school, at home, in the mosque and church, via the media and in peer groups. The papers were presented and discussed at an authors’ conference at VU University Amsterdam, organized in close collaboration between the staff of its Centre of Islamic Theology and other scholars in religious education, and the Islamic Universities League in Cairo. The authors describe actual processes of education, reflect on religious identity formation and respect for other people and the influences from home, school, mosque, and church, the media and “the street.”


Redbad Veenbaas

This paper discusses the identity, values, and standards of behaviour and the religious education of young Muslims in the Netherlands. After an intro-duction of the theme, the results are presented of a study among 30 young highly educated Muslim young adults between the ages of 19 and 28. For these young people, being a Muslim is at the core of their identity. This identity offers them the freedom to escape from the dilemma between being Dutch and belonging to their own culture and gives them the opportunity to understand the world around them in a positive but, at the same time, critical way. The paper also looks at an inquiry among a group of boys between 12 and 18 years of age on the street. To them, being a Muslim is also highly important, but religion and culture, even street culture, seem to be even more interwoven in their minds and behaviour.


Wolfram Weisse

This paper consists of three parts. First, the context of the public debate on religion and religious education in Europe is outlined. Second, the research project REDCo is presented. This project was carried out in the following countries: Estonia, Russia, Norway, Germany, the Netherlands, England, France and Spain. This huge European research programme consisted of many sub-projects in each of the countries mentioned. All the projects looked at religious education for students in the 14-16-year-old age group in various countries. Analyses of the concepts of religious education were combined with the concrete views of pupils: they were observed, interviewed, and asked for written answers in questionnaires, and their interaction was analysed. This provided the data for this paper: the views of young people in Europe on religious heterogeneity and religious education. For the most part, they agree with the idea that learning about different religions at school helps people to live together peacefully. Finally, the author gives an overview on future perspectives.