Edited By Stephen G. Parker, Rob Freathy and Leslie J. Francis
8 A Comparative Perspective on the History of Religious Education: England and Norway
In this chapter I present a comparative perspective on the history of Religious Education in England and Norway. One interesting difference between the countries is that while historical studies have been a focus of Religious Education research in Norway, this has not been the case in England. In this chapter I suggest some possible explanations for this difference, using the methodology for comparative studies developed in my doctoral thesis to discuss some historical events. There is a focus here on the period from the establishment of the first state-maintained schools in England in 1870, and in Norway in 1739, until the establishment of multifaith approaches to Religious Education, in England in 1988, and in Norway in 1997. The history of Religious Education and the history of the school systems are intertwined in both countries. In England it was the dual system of co-operation between the Church and the state that brought schools to all parts of the country. In Norway it was the Reformation that was the direct cause for the establishment of education for all. At the same time it is in the distinct histories of each of the countries that we find explanations for similarities and differences that persist even today. England and Norway, along with many other countries, have been faced since the 1960s with new challenges to Religious Education related to increased cultural plurality. However, these supranational challenges are met differently in England and Norway, reflecting differences in the national imaginaries....