World Conference on Religion and Peace
Weltkonferenz der Religionen für den Frieden
Nuremberg Forum
Peace Education Standing Commission c/o Prof. (em.) Dr. Johannes Lähnemann, Lehrstuhl Evangelische Religionspädagogik der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
Regensburger Str. 160
D-90478 Nürnberg

Lähnemann, Johannes: Interreligious Textbook Resarch and Development: A Proposal for Standards

The importance of textbook research – even in the age of audio-visual media – lies in the fact that school textbooks pass on fundamental knowledge to the younger generation: selected, methodologically prepared texts (historical and religious sources, stimulus texts, material for commiting to memory), key themes, pictures, suggestions. In a situation of limited specialist training for teachers, textbooks often “teach the teachers” and play a substantial role in lesson planning.

Interreligious textbook research is of particular relevance in the face of the sweeping generalizations, prejudice andstereotypes regarding other religions and cultures (“Islam is like this” – “The West is like that”) that were, and still are, to be found in school textbooks.They are not infrequently reinforced by the media and can easily be misused for political ends. In the tension between a “Clash of Civilisations” and the“Dialogue among Civilisations” that is needed, school textbooks have an important task.[1] In this respect, we look at cultures not as fixed entities. Differentiations andchanges in the different beliefs and in different regions are to be taken seriously.

[1] Cf. K. Hock/J. Lähnemann: Schulbuchforschung interreligiös – auf dem Weg zu besserem gegenseitigen Verstehen. In: J. Lähnemann (Ed.): Bewahrung – Entwicklung – Versöhnung. Religiöse Erziehung in globaler Verantwortung. Referate und Ergebnisse des Nürnberger Forums 2003. Hamburg 2005. = Pädagogische Beiträge zur Kulturbegegnung Bd. 23, S. 380-398, 394.

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Lombard, Christo: A Curriular and Text Book Writing Processes in South Africa and Namibia - A Response to the Proposal for Standards in Interreligious Textbook Development

Both Namibia and South Africa only recently (i.e. after 1990) moved beyond a pedagogical culture that wastrapped in apartheid thinking, undergirded by an exclusivist form of Christian-nationalist ideology. 

The negative impact of such an approach to the teaching of religion at school far outweighed the few positives, such as the fact that at least religion, teacher training and text bookproduction were somehow taken seriously.  Ideological driven as it was, much effort and many resources were poured into the educational process  - unfortunately for wrongs reasons and in wrong directions.

The negatives of religious education within a Christian-national framework can make up a long and devastating list. Most important are probably negativefactors such as the following:

*  Christianity itself was not portrayed in a balanced way, but only onedangerously heretical version of it, with hegemonic worldview claims, was promoted as a final solution to all issues and problems, which of course willalways foster an uncritical culture of obedience, narrow vision and complacency. 

*  Other religions did not feature at all, except as vehicles of error anduntruths in caricature format. 

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