Signposts: Why should you read this publication?
The new Council of Europe document is worth reading. It offers a rich collection of issues, arguments and content about policy and practice for teaching about religions and non-religious world views in intercultural education. Its purpose is to help implement Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)12 on the dimension of religions and non-religious convictions within intercultural education issued by the Committee of Ministers in 2008:
– Signposts aims at assisting policy makers, schools and teacher trainers – as well as other actors in education – in using the recommendation in their own particular national, regional and local context.
– Signposts suggests practical ways forward and ideas for practice-based research.
The book consists of ten chapters.
1. The recommendation: background issues and challenges
2. Introducing Signposts and its key themes (“Religion”; “Culture”; “intercultural education”; hints on different ways and differences in understanding religion and religious understanding; findings of a survey among member states)
3. Terminology associated with teaching about religions and beliefs
4. Competence and didactics for understanding religions
5. The classroom as a safe space (oriented on dialogue)
6. The representation of religions in the media
7. Non-religious convictions and world views
8. Human rights issues (and teaching about religions)
9. Linking schools to wider communities and organisations
10. Promoting further discussion and action
Of course the document is not about religious education that is close to concerns of member churches in many contexts. But it offers encouraging views for further dialogue and exchange also with confessional approaches to religious education.
“Signposts is an aid to thinking through issues of teaching about religions and non-religious world views in different national contexts, raised by the recommendation. The document is called Signposts in order to emphasise its flexible nature. It is a tool to be used by educators and other stakeholders in member states, developing their own policies and approaches to teaching and learning about religions and beliefs in their own contexts, but taking into close account the principles, values and ideas expressed in the recommendation.” (P. 21)
Council of Europe (2014): Signposts – Policy and practice for teaching about religions and non-religious world views in intercultural education, Strasbourg, ISNB: 978-92-871-7914-2, 19 €: Order: www.coe.int printed or as a pdf file.
Dr Peter Schreiner