Religious Education in Danmark
1. RE in Danish Primary schools
The pupils are in Primary School for 10 years from the ages of 6 to 16. In Denmark they study RE in all years except in grade 7, where the majority follows the Church of Denmark´s preparation leading up to their confirmation.
The name of the subject is Christianity with four main focuses:
- Philosophy of Life and Ethics
- Biblical narratives
- Non-Christian Religions and other world views
During these years both RE and the other subjects are taught and learned using a variety of different methods. The pupils will meet and use the following approaches: historical critical, biographical, narrative and aesthetical.
All RE teaching in the Danish school system is non-confessional focusing on the informative aspect of different beliefs systems.
The study Christianity ends with an oral examination in grade 9.
Facebook site created by Anne Rosenskjold. The site contains material to RE in the Primary School.
2. RE in Upper Secondary Education
A structural reform of the education system of the 16-19-year-olds (sixth form college level, gymnasium) and of the 2-year Higher Preparatory Examination Course (HF) was implemented in 2017 with a general focus on global and digital education, innovation, career competence and writing skills.
The 3-year 6th form college (Gymnasium)
RE is a compulsory subject and taught in either the second or third year of the student’s three-year programme. The approach to RE is non-confessional and scientific. In RE the students study the following subject areas:
- One other major, global religion like Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism or Sikhism,
- Choose between one additional religion (it does not have to be one of the religions mentioned above) or a minor subject in the area of 1. ethics, 2. philosophy of Religion, 3. a subject in Religious Studies (e.g. rituals, sociology of religion, psychology of religion, new religious movements etc.), 4. a central phenomena, 5. terminology and methods of Religious Studies.
There is a requirement for learning about a non-monotheistic religion. The teaching of Christianity constitutes at least one third of the curriculum.
RE is able to participate in interdisciplinary projects where a number of subjects work together in analysing a specific topic, e.g. the difference between Faith and Knowledge or Ethic dilemmas in using CRISPR-technology.
The teaching of RE is based on the study of a combination of normative texts, modern interpretations of these and other kinds of relevant materials. The reform launches an openness to an extended text concept using YouTube, Facebook websites etc. in the classroom. It is recommended to use some materials in English or other foreign languages as well.
An important aspect of RE is to provide academic tools and methods of religious studies in order to enable students to understand and interpret the religious texts seen from inside (emic) and outside (etic). The teaching is based on scientific approaches like comparative, phenomenological or sociological approaches.
RE ends with an oral exam the purpose of which is to test the students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject religion. The starting point is an analysis of a text. The student then has to apply the “tools of the trade” to the text.
Students can also choose to study RE as an optional subject for another year at a higher level.
2-year Higher Preparatory Examination Course (HF)
Since the 2005 reforms, RE has been placed in the “the Culture and Social Science Group”, which also consists of the subjects History and Social Science. The intent of the group is to give the student an insight into the historical, societal and cultural development both locally, national and global.
At a minimum half of the time the students work with the Culture and Social Science Group the three subjects work closely together in a number of common projects. The rest of the time there is separate teaching in the three subjects. The approach to RE is non-confessional and scientific.
At the end of the two-year program there are two exams. One where all three subject is present based on the common projects, and the other in one of the three subjects.
Examples of common subjects:
- Greenland today
- What is a good society in e.g. Denmark or USA
- Meetings of different cultures
- Ethics in regard to e.g. covid19 or refugees or…
During the two years, the students study the following compulsory subject areas:
- Central aspects of one additional religion
- Central phenomena, terminology and methods of religion
- Ethics and philosophy
- The religions cultural, social and political influence in the past and today
- Methods used in RE
Several of the subject areas are part of each project.
The teaching of RE in the group is based on the study of a combination of normative texts, modern interpretations of these and other kinds of relevant materials.
Some students choose to study RE as an optional subject at a higher level.