Historical Representations of and Prospective History Teachers’ Beliefs on Religious Diversity

Due to globalization and increasing migration flows, classrooms become increasingly diverse, which poses huge challenges to educators: how to deal with diversity? This paper focuses particularly on religious diversity. In many countries, heated debates take place on the role of religion in society/education, and on the value/dangers of religious diversity. In those debates, however, historical dimensions of religious diversity and the voices of religious people are often being neglected. This situation risks to oversimplify debates on religion, to exclude and marginalize religious people, and hence to disturb their belonging. Education might be a place to counter those risks, by offering nuanced (historical) representations of religious diversity and by making religion and religious identities debatable. This contribution, being part of a bigger research project on "religious toleration and peace," therefore focuses on two main stakeholders in education. The representation of religious diversity in history textbooks influences its perception among learners in the present. And ultimately, (history) teachers determine how religion and religious identity are being approached in the classroom. Via a content, discourse and narrative analysis, the way how religious diversity and coexistence throughout the past are being represented in current European history textbooks for secondary education is being examined. Via semi-structured focus group interviews, the beliefs and perceptions of (prospective) (history) teachers on religious diversity and on how to address religion and religious coexistence in the classroom are analyzed. Analysis results will be reflected upon, with regard to identifying fruitful ways in dealing with learners’ religious diversity in education/teacher training.

Religious Diversity, History Education, Prospective Teachers, Textbooks, Religious Identities

Learner Diversity and Identities

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

  • Van Nieuwenhuyse Karel
    • Associate Professor in History Didactics, History, University of Leuven, Belgium Belgium
    • Karel Van Nieuwenhuyse has a PhD in political history. He is currently associate professor in history didactics, conducting history educational research, on the position of the present, use of sources, historical representations, and the interplay between historical narratives-identification-civic attitudes.