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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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8 A Comparative Perspective on the History of Religious Education: England and Norway

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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....

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