donderdag, december 01, 2016

REA Conference in Pittsburgh 2016 # 9

Daniel Moulin wrote on his blog this splendid report of the conference. Thanks a lot, Daniel! 

The 2016 Annual Meeting of the Religious Education Association – a US-based organisation with a global remit for the promotion and development of religious education – took place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the weekend before the Presidential Election. 

Outside the conference, the election campaign was in full swing (Hilary Clinton visited Pittsburgh the day after), and churches in the city distributed flyers asking congregations to reflect in conscience on her campaign pledges versus those of Trump. 

The election inevitably remained an informal topic of discussion throughout the conference. But this was not coincidental or tangential. The role of religion in American politics is well-known. And more generally, the role of religious educators among all the division, noise and turbulence of the world – political and otherwise – has ongoing pedagogical and theological significance. This issue informed the conference theme of ‘generating hope’.

An after-dinner address was made by the award-winning columnist Tony Norman who gave an eloquent and detailed account of the inspiring teachers of literature who had encouraged him to write and had given him hope. Bert Roebben, an advocate of the importance of theology in religious education, in his presidential address meditated on the importance of hope in religious education, showing how theological ideas may inform praxis. 

Of Belgian nationality but working in Dortmund, like many others in Germany Roebben has observed first-hand the despair of refugees arriving there, but through those challenging circumstances he has also seen the hope that religious education can provide, including the work of his students and colleagues with them.

Roebben’s argument, drawing upon the work of Heather Walton, is that teaching is not just phronèsis or rightly-informed practical action, but actually poèsis – a creative action that symbiotically transforms the teacher, student and world. Reflecting on his own work as a teacher-educator led Roebben to see hope as fundamental to this process. Because of the enormity of the task of engaging students with ultimate questions, the teacher’s work must be ‘anchored in a habitus of hope’ (p. 235). 

As part of his meditation of the meaning of hope, Roebben referred to the thought of the last president of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the newly formed Czech Republic, Václav Havel. Havel observed while incarcerated by the communist regime that to hope does not mean to expect things will work out for the best, but that we must endeavour to do what makes sense, regardless of how things turn out. It follows therefore, that we should not just see hope as a goal, but that it can saturate the teacher’s outlook, motivation and methods.

To practice hope in the classroom, Roebben argues, we must break isolation and learn patiently and deeply in the presence others. One way of doing this is to use ‘sensitizing stories’ – narratives that encourage a deeper reflection of oneself and one’s values. In such ways using story can transform classrooms and teacher-training. Roebben used the stories of the last gardener of Aleppo and the parable of the growing seed (Mark 4:26-29) to illustrate this point. While the former is a sensitizing story of hope being destroyed, Roebben suggests the latter provides a metaphor of how our toil can lead to new growth without us knowing why. One aspect of this is hope’s eschatological dimension – for in looking towards the time when a corrupt order will be overthrown, praxis can also pass on theology.

The philosopher of education John Dewey once stated that the teacher is the usher of the Kingdom of God on earth. Many today would not share such a utopian view of democracy or of education. Perhaps religious education can never transcend the political. But if there is a place where our deepest values, questions and concerns may be identified, addressed and shared, that surely must be in the religious education classroom. The religious education teacher therefore has tremendous responsibility, but also may be a harbinger of hope.

zondag, november 06, 2016

REA Conference in Pittsburgh 2016 # 8

Some "provisional" insights from the conference - many things need to processed...

Hope-generating research – which is creative, participative and resource-oriented, is driven by “scholarly virtues” (Daniel Moulin) and is offering  a “humanist” alternative for “technocratic” research agendas (Bernhard Grümme).

Can “reverend irreverence” (Sarah Tauber), as a critical way of dealing with one’s own tradition, be taught in an intergenerational setting, in which loyalty and drinking from the wells of wisdom are central (Mualla Selcuk)?

Cosmopolitanism can be considered as „the reflective loyalty to the known and the reflective openness to the new” (David Hansen). But the pragmatic question remains: how “do-we-do-this-with-Dewey in the daily classroom?” (Aaron Ghiloni)

Taking seriously the “ecological” dimension of education – the fact that every educational relationship is shaped by personal and structural constraints – changes radically our understanding of the school and the teacher (Reggie Nel and Elizabeth Conde-Frazier). Are we aware of the fact that young people already are responding to the shifting foundations of their education, in ways we are often not aware of? That they are the real entrepreneurs of their texts, contexts and textures?

Bernhard Grümme, Sarah Tauber, Daniel Moulin and Mualla Selçuk

REA Conference in Pittsburgh 2016 # 7

Breakfast in America - Diane, Katharina, Lisa and Bert
Funky Fly Project (Picture by Katharina Welling)

zaterdag, november 05, 2016

REA Conference in Pittsburgh 2016 # 6

More thougts on the theme of the conference - more specifically on the role of theology in generating hope in religious education - can be read in my new book, that will come out at the next AAR Meeting in San Antonio (TX). The book is published by Peeters Publishers in Leuven (Belgium).

Here is the content description. In a post-secular society contemporaries are challenged to raise and face existential questions in the midst of a plurality of (religious and non-religious) worldviews. Children, adolescents and young adults are especially eager for orientation in negotiating this plurality. Religious education in European schools can provide them with solid insights and a safe space to accept this challenge. In this book the narrative, communicative and spiritual dimensions of religious education are discussed. In the act of theologizing with children, adolescents and young adults, “in each other’s presence” and with a view to wisdom traditions, they are empowered to patiently engage in new ways. Alternative patterns of framing identity and community, experience and interpretation, transcendence and immanence, can then emerge. The book is rooted in the teaching praxis of the author and reaches out to the centers of initial teacher education, where future leaders learn to discover the theological dignity of religious education.

REA Conference in Pittsburgh 2016 # 5

Beautfiul graphic representation of my presidential address this morning by Steve Thomasson

REA Conference 2016 in Pittsburgh # 4

Aaron J. Ghiloni and David T. Hansen (picture by Mary Hess)
Elizabeth Conde-Frazier and Reggie Nel (picture by Mary Hess)
Closing ceremony (picture by Mary Hess)

donderdag, november 03, 2016

REA Conference 2016 in Pittsburgh # 3

Nach einem englischen Frühstück auf amerikanischen Boden begann unser Tag mit einem freundlichen und herzlichen Empfang durch Helen Blier und Bert Roebben in einem bemerkenswert schönen Ambiente (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary) bei sommerlichen 26 Grad. Durch Helen haben wir einige Einblicke in die von Stahlindustrie geprägte Geschichte der Stadt Pittsburgh gewonnen. Es folgten, basierend auf den unterschiedlichen Präsentationen der angereisten Teilnehmerinnen und Teilnehmer, konstruktive Gespräche im Hinblick auf das Thema der Tagung.

Mit Fokus auf den Aspekt der Identitätsbildung und der Rolle des Lehrers begannen Daniel Moulin (The teacher and the promotion of an identity climate in school), Diane Du Val (Fostering Identity in Belgian religious education) und Lisa Krasemann (Bibliolog in primary school classes as a tool for identity building) mit ihren jeweiligen Präsentationen. Nach einer gemeinsamen Mittagspause, welche geprägt war von der Begegnung und dem regen Austausch zwischen Studierenden des Theological Seminary und den Teilnehmern der Pre-Conference, ist unsere Perspektive auf Religious Education durch den interessanten Vortrag von Mualla Selcuk im Hinblick auf hermeneutische Lernprozesse in dem Islam erweitert worden. Reggie Nel schloss den inhaltlichen Teil des Tages mit seinem Vortrag zum Thema „Building moral community in school“ (South Africa) ab. Den Rest des Tages verbrachten wir in netter Atmosphäre im konstanten Austausch mit Mitarbeiterinnen und Mitarbeitern des Theological Seminary, bevor wir den Abend im Rahmen eines Dinners haben ausklingen lassen (Bericht: Lisa Krasemann und Katharina Welling).

Doktorandinnen Diane Duval, Lisa Krasemann und Katharina Welling

woensdag, november 02, 2016

REA Conference 2016 in Pittsburgh # 2

Before the conference we will meet today and tomorrow at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (PTS) with some of the participants and will talk about “The Religious Educator as a Guide in Fostering Identity, Celebrating Diversity and Building Community”.

It is assumed that at least three roles can be discerned in the daily work of the religious education teacher: he/she is fostering the (religious or non-religious) identity of students (micro-level), is celebrating diversity in the classroom (meso-level) and building community in the school, in relationship to the broader community (macro-level). In other words: he/she is (1) supporting the child and the youngster in finding meaning for the personal life story, is (2) creating a space safe for learning in the presence of others in the classroom, and is (3) enhancing justice and human dignity with regard to moral and religious diversity issues in the larger school context.

We will discuss these topics with Daniel Moulin (Navarra University, Spain), Diane Duval (Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium), Lisa Krasemann (TU Dortmund University), Sarah Tauber (Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, USA), Katharina Welling (TU Dortmund University), Reginald and Benita Nel (UniSA in Pretoria, South Africa), Mualla Selçuk (Ankara University, Turkey), Bernhard Grümme (Ruhr University Bochum, Germany) and Aaron Ghiloni (Trinity College at the University of Queensland, Australia) and myself. Helen Blier, Director of Continuing Education at PTS is our esteemed host!

Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Picture by Panoramio

zondag, oktober 30, 2016

REA Conference 2016 in Pittsburgh # 1

It is with excitement and joy that I look forward to the REA-meeting in Pittsburgh! We have been working hard on the theme, the program and the framework, in order to include as much qualitative papers, posters and plenary presentations as possible. Take a look at the latest issue of E-Reach and share our enthusiasm about this year’s keynote speakers and conference papers on new and hope-related research in the RE-field!

We will try to provide you with a daily update on our work at the pre-conference seminar at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (with the theme "The teacher as a guide in fostering identity, celebrating diversity and building community") and at the general meeting of the Religious Education Association in downtown Pittsburgh (with the theme "Generating hope. On the future of the teaching profession in a globalized world"). Research assistants Lisa Krasemann and Katharina Welling will join us to the States and will keep you informed (in German and in English)!

Mehr Infos über das Konferenzthema auf Deutsch kann man hier finden!

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor pittsburgh fall
Picture by Dave Dicello (Flickriver)

dinsdag, oktober 11, 2016

Kan men "stilte" leren in het godsdienstonderwijs?

Bild: Grenze Österreich-Slowenien (BR)

Volgende week gaat het nieuwe academiejaar van start in Dortmund. Als theoloog bereid ik mijn studenten voor op het ambt van leraar godsdienst/levensbeschouwing. Ik leer mijn studenten het leven “lezen” en verdichten, zodat het geheim ervan kan opklinken en zodat zij later zelf dit proces bij hun leerlingen kunnen aanmoedigen. Het liefst van al zou ik hen stilte leren: “hineinhorchen” (Etty Hillesum) of luisterend inkeren in het geheim van het leven. Sprakeloos worden en de taal van de leegte nieuw verstaan. Of nog: “im Schweigen sprachfähig werden” (Jürgen Werbick), in het zwijgen nieuwe woorden vinden. Ik zou hen willen leren wat ik van Huub Oosterhuis leerde: “Wek mijn zachtheid weer. Geef mij terug de ogen van een kind. Dat ik zie wat is. En mij toevertrouw. En het licht niet haat”.

vrijdag, september 30, 2016

Teilnahme an der Konferenz "Inklusive Schule. Religionspädagogische Annäherungen und Orientierung"

Am 10. und 11. November 2016 bin ich in Wien als Vortragender und "critical friend" zur oben genannten Konferenz, im Rahmen des Projektes "Lebens Werte Schule", eingeladen. Mit meinem Vortrag "Didaktik der (immer) verletzlichen Differenz im Kontext einer (immer) erhofften Inklusion" verstehe ich das Oberthema so:

Meine Ausgangsfrage ist doppelt: Wie wird die "Baustelle inklusive Schule" in der Europäischen religiösen Bildung rezipiert und wie produziert die religiöse Bildung neues Erfahrungswissen für diese Baustelle? Die menschliche Grunderfahrung der "verletzlichen Differenz" ist bildungsphilosophisch und -theologisch so radikal relevant, dass sie in der Schule - innerhalb und außerhalb (!) des Religionsunterrichts - nicht unberücksichtigt bleiben kann. Der Fokus der Präsentation liegt auf der pädagogischen Verantwortung von LehrerInnen und auf der Frage, wie diese Verantwortung professionell und spirituell im Rahmen der LehrerInnenbildung zum Tragen kommen kann.

Picture by Paul Hopkins, September 2016

donderdag, september 08, 2016

Text of keynote "Generating hope for Europe" available

Interested in my keynote lecture in Vienna (2nd of September 2016), entitled "Generating hope for Europe. On praxis and promise of tomorrow’s religious education professionals"? The presentation is now online. Go to the website of the European Forum for Teachers of Religious Education, to the conference 2016 page and then to the conference downloads. There you will find the Powerpoint presentations of Zulehner, Cush, Schreiner and Roebben.

vrijdag, augustus 26, 2016

Werken aan je "spirituele huishouding"

In het Juni-nummer van Verus Magazine had ik het over hoop en veerkracht, thema van de landelijke studiedag op 9 november 2016 in Driebergen (NL). Het was Hadewijch Wouters die me interviewde.

"Nee, hoop kun je niet leren, maar je kunt natuurlijk wel leren er ontvankelijk voor te zijn, zodat je – als hoop ‘langskomt’ – haar kunt ontvangen, er op in kan spelen, ze zelf kan omzetten in ‘actieve’ hoop.
De bekende Duitse theoloog Jürgen Moltmann maakte het onderscheid tussen het futurum en het adventum. Het futurum staat voor de toekomst die we zelf realiseren vanuit onze eigen mogelijkheden. Het adventum is God die op je afkomt, vanuit het onverwachte, en iets totaal nieuws brengt. Maar op dat totaal nieuwe moet je wel inspelen, je moet bewust kiezen voor die hoop, voor het beloftevolle.
Hoe kun je dat doen? Je moet aan je eigen spirituele huishouding werken, zodat je niet verzinkt in moedeloosheid. In de theologie worden cynisme en onverschilligheid trouwens zonden tegen de Geest genoemd, omdat ze de Geest niet toelaten haar werk te doen, te waaien. Daarom moet je bewust beslissen jezelf en elkaar te behoeden voor wanhoop en ervoor kiezen om hoop te herkennen, je ervoor open te stellen en haar te ontvangen.
Leraren die zelf werken aan hun spirituele huishouding, kunnen hun hoop delen met kinderen en jongeren en hen helpen aan hún spirituele huishouding te werken. Daarvoor is het belangrijk dat leerlingen en studenten de kans krijgen iets te creëren. Ze mogen het podium op en iets van zichzelf laten zien! Vervolgens kunnen leraren hun de ruimte geven om woorden te geven aan deze ervaring en erover in gesprek te gaan. Ten slotte kunnen leraren hen helpen hun woorden te relateren aan diverse perspectieven op (samen)leven.
Voor dat alles is het belangrijk dat de school een gemeenschap is waarbinnen leraren hun hoop met elkaar kunnen delen.
Laatst kreeg ik een kaart van een studente, met een citaat van de mysticus Meister Eckhart erop: ‘… Und plötzlich weisst du: es ist Zeit, etwas Neues zu beginnen und dem Zauber des Anfangs zu vertrauen.’. Toen ik dat las, wist ik dat zij het begrepen had.”