07 SES 09 B, Intercultural Peace and Humanist Worldview Education
In contemporary European societies it is important that young people develop both a sense of autonomy and social concern for others and the quality of living together in today’s diverse societies. Education could be an important environment for the development of these values. In this paper we’ll focus on humanist worldview education in the Netherlands in which explicitly a humanist worldview is advocated.
In line with various social developments during the last decades, worldview education has become an interesting social phenomenon in Dutch education. Dutch society transformed from a pillarized society along religious lines into a more secular society. Biesta, van Nijnatten and Miedema (2001) characterize the Netherlands nowadays as a plural postmodern society. This transition implies a challenge for religious and worldview education in Dutch schools. Education could help students to orient themselves towards an inclusive society, to be able to bridge (Putnam, 2000) and to construct communalities across differences (van Koeven & Leeman, 2011; Parker, 2003). Ideally this social orientation extends national borders, is oriented towards Europe and the global world.
Humanism, as a non-religious worldview, focuses on linking autonomy and humanity (Veugelers & Oostdijk 2013). In Dutch public schools humanist worldview education is taught to pupils on parent’s request. About 1/3 of the public schools have this humanist worldview education. This type of education concentrates on moral, worldview and citizenship education from a humanist perspective.
This research aims to gain insight into teachers thinking on the opportunities and practices of humanist worldview education. As we are interested in the goals and theoretical assumptions we analyzed philosophical theories (Aloni), pedagogical theories (Biesta) and psychological theories (Baumeister) to construct an instrument for a survey among teachers.
Aloni (2002) provides a historical overview of four approaches in humanistic education. The cultural-classical approach focuses on longing for human perfection and is found in the roots of Western culture. A good and full human life existed of a connection of human skills(arete) and knowledge about cultural traditions (paideai or Bildung) The naturalistic-romantic approach values the yearning for the authenticity or self-actualization. The existential approach concentrates on the demand for self-creation. Human beings need to shape their identities by themselves. The critical-radical approach considers education as a mean to enhance (political) empowerment and moral sensitivity and the development of just societies.
To analyze the pedagogical views and approaches of teachers, we used theories of moral development. This perspective implies developing rationality, autonomy, empowerment, creativity, affections and a concern for humanity. This social component also means appreciating diversity and democracy (Veugelers, 2011) Important are therefore to develop children’s critical thinking, their ability to judge and live with and across differences (Biesta, 2012). A more psychological perspective allowed us to pay attention to processes of meaning giving (Baumeister, 1991).
We researched the ideas and interpretations of the teachers regarding humanist worldview education. Following Goodlad’s curriculum model (1979), further developed in the Netherlands by Van den Akker (2003) and Bartels (2013), we focused on the interpreted curriculum (the interpretation made of the programme by the teacher). We asked the teachers also about their interpretations of practice of teaching and of the learning results.
The research questions are the following:
- Which pedagogical goals, content and methods can be found in the curriculum of humanistic worldview education?
- How do pupils experience the practice of humanistic worldview education and what do they learn?
- How and to what extent practices and results can be related to the different humanistic philosophical foundations?
Akker, J. van den, Kuiper, W. & Hameyer, U. (eds.) (2003) Curriculum Landscapes and Trends. Dordrecht: Kluwer. Aloni, N. (2002) Enhancing humanity. The philosophical foundations of humanistic education. Dordrecht: Springer Bartels, R. (2013) Democratie leren door filosoferen. Budel: Damon Bakker, C. & I. ter Avest (2014) Coming Out Religiously: Life orientation in Public Schools. In: Religious Education Baumeister, R.F. (1991) Meanings of life. New York: Guilford Press. Biesta, G. (2010) Good education in an Age of measurement: Ethics, politics, democracy. Boulder: Paradigm Publishers Biesta, G., Van Nijnatten. C., & Miedema, S., (Red.) (2001). Onderwijs en opvoeding en de terugkeer van de religie in de postmoderne samenleving. Inleiding op het themadeel Pedagogiek. Wetenschappelijk forum voor Opvoeding, Onderwijs en Vorming, 21, 124-177 Koeven, E, Van & Leeman, Y. (2011) Intercultural Education 22 (5) 395-410. Leenders, H., Veugelers, W., & Kat E. de, (2008), Teachers’ view on citizenship in secondary education in the Netherlands. Cambridge journal of education Nussbaum, M. (1998). Cultivating humanity. Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press. Parker, W.C. (2003). Teaching democracy: unity and diversity in public life. New York: Teachers College Press. Putnam, R., (2000) Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York: Simon & Schuster Veugelers, W. (Eds.) (2011) Education and Humanism. Linking autonomy and humanity. Rotterdam: SensePublishers Veugelers, W en E. Oostdijk (2013) Humanistische levensbeschouwelijke vorming. Levensbeschouwelijke vorming in het Nederlandse openbaar onderwijs, in het bijzonder HVO. Pedagogiek, jrg 33 (oktober 2013) (2), pp. 136-153
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