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History, Remembrance and Religious Education

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Edited By Stephen G. Parker, Rob Freathy and Leslie J. Francis

How should the Holocaust be taught in schools, and to what end? What role should religious education play in recounting and remembering this human catastrophe? How has the nature and purpose of religious education changed and developed over time? What contribution should religious education make to identity formation, particularly regarding the role of memory, heritage and tradition? The scholarly reflections in this volume, drawing upon historical, theoretical and empirical perspectives, provide insights into past, present and potential future developments in religious and values education in a range of national contexts, including Germany, Israel, Norway, Canada and South Africa. The chapters fall under three headings: fostering a culture of remembrance; historical perspectives on religious education; and history, tradition, memory and identity. Together they form a unique collection of international perspectives upon these interlocking themes.
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1 ‘Culture of Remembrance’ as a Framework for Education in Religion and Values: A Christian and German Approach

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Abstract

‘Culture of remembrance’ is a concept that purports to reinterpret history and its meaning from a new perspective, that of the victims of the past, the oppressed, and the suffering. The contextual standpoint that underlies it in the present chapter is that of the Holocaust. The notion of ‘culture of remembrance’ is explored on two levels – theoretical and empirical, particularly for educational purposes. On the theoretical level, it draws largely on the ideas put forward in the works of Walter Benjamin, Theodor W. Adorno, and Elie Wiesel, as well as of the Roman Catholic theologian Johann Baptist Metz and others, that reshape the position toward Auschwitz and call for solidarity with its victims in the present. The empirical approach of ‘culture of remembrance’ mirrors the situation in Germany and focuses on the individual’s understanding and interpretation of the world and reality, in connection to the Holocaust. Studies have revealed that anti-Semitic attitudes are still present on all levels – social, political, and even religious, and trigger various other forms of racism and homophobia. The consequence is that, especially with young people, the teaching of religion as well as of history in schools needs to be reconsidered and redesigned, with the view to awakening the ‘historical consciousness’ or ‘awareness’ of young individuals and to initiate right learning. ← 23 | 24 →

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