Following discussions within the Executive Committee of EFTRE as to how best to respond to the conflict in Ukraine, two decisions were made. The first was to issue a statement on the EFTRE website highlighting the importance of education in developing inter-religious and intercultural understanding, and affirming that “Peacebuilding, in a context of human rights and social responsibility, is an integral part of all our educational encounters and activities”.
The second decision was to prepare an online Workshop in order to flesh out these ideals in a context that might be helpful to religious educators at all levels. It was agreed to find examples of effective practice from different parts of Europe and to offer these for consideration and discussion.
The Workshop took place on 1st April 2022, and participants joined from a range of countries including Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK (England and Northern Ireland). After a welcome and introduction by Lesley Prior, the EFTRE Chair, those taking part were given an opportunity to share their own experiences of dealing with issues around war and conflict.
A powerful reflection via images and words – Passport Photos for Sheltering Ukrainians – was presented by Hugo Verkest, from Belgium, followed by the sharing of a wide range of sources and resources collected by Bianca Kappelhoff and her colleagues in Germany. Lesley Prior made a brief presentation on Quaker Peace Education resources produced in England, and Norman Richardson, based on his experience in Northern Ireland, introduced a PowerPoint presentation entitled Difficult Conversations? – Approaching Controversial Issues in the Religious Education Classroom.
These presentations and links to the resources are now available via this website. We hope that they will be useful both at the present time and in the future. Please bring them to the attention of colleagues, pupils and students.
EFTRE would welcome any other experiences and teaching ideas that you would like to share on these important issues as we continue to encourage and support peacebuilding through Religious Education and related subjects.
Signposts on dealing with religion and non-religious worldviews in intercultural education – A teacher training module.
SIGNPOSTS (edited by Robert Jackson) is a Council of Europe publication focusing on how the study of religions and non-religious world views can contribute to intercultural education in schools in Europe. SIGNPOSTS provides advice on tackling issues arising from the Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)12 on the dimension of religions and non-religious convictions within intercultural education. Since its publication, a teacher training module has been developed which builds on the key elements of the publication in a practical and engaging way and this seminar offers an introduction to that module.
This will take place on Friday, 19th March 4pm CET (so -/+ one hour, depending on where you are in Europe!) and last no more than three hours. It will be conducted in English.
There will be:
a brief welcome from the Chair of EFTRE, Lesley Prior
a keynote presentation by Dr Angelos Vallianatos from Athens, Greece who helped to develop the module
group discussions and activities
concluding remarks and farewells.
To receive the zoom link, please write a short message to EFTRE executive member Bianca Kappelhoff (). The Zoom venue can only accommodate a maximum of 100 participants. So, the first 100 people who log in will be given priority.
Workshop leader will be Dr. Angelos Vallianatos
Dealing with religion at school nowadays is a controversial issue, in the context of Religion Education but also in the whole the school life. In this workshop we will approach the European Wergeland Centre – Council of Europe publication, its content and use in teacher training and we will try some characteristic parts of it in action. Dr. Angelos Vallianatos (PhD in Theology) has worked as a teacher and a School Advisor in Athens, Greece. He is trained in Intercultural Education, Human Rights and Citizenship Education in Greece and in Council of Europe (CoE) educational programmes. Since 2005 he participates in Council of Europe, Wergeland Centre and Arigatou International educational work as expert and trainer, creating and implementing educational training programs. He has authored, participated in authoring groups, published and translated educational material, texts and thesis and also lectured at international and Greek educational conferences, about his scientific field, EDC/HRE, intercultural education, didactics and the use of new technologies in educational process.
It was the first time EFTRE offered this kind of online event – and it was a huge success. More participants than expected logged into zoom to focus on “Teaching RE in the times of Covid” – a challenge that faces RE teachers all over Europe.
After a warm welcome from EFTRE chair Lesley Prior from London, Bert Roebben from Leuven in Belgium shared his ideas on this theme. In his keynote, Bert reflected on how corona has changed provisions and visions of RE in schools in Europe. He emphasised that we all are navigating on “shifting grounds” and therefore need to re-envision RE within this process. In this context, he not only drew attention to our interactions with pupils – whether that might be face to face or in the digital classroom – but also to the self-understanding of RE teachers. According to Bert, teachers also need to reflect on their own identities and on how they can accompany and support their pupils as they negotiate these “shifting grounds”.
After a short exchange in small groups via breakout sessions, the participants came back together to listen to the second input, this time contributed by Sonja Danner from Vienna, Austria. She gave examples on how to start a conversation with students about their experiences during the corona crisis. From a practical point of view, she shared methods in which ways she uses an approach involving humorous cartoons and other images to “break the ice”. These examples put everyone in a good mood for a second round of exchange via breakout sessions.
In the end, the up to 50 colleagues from around 14 countries agreed: this was a great opportunity to connect and exchange but way too short! The EFTRE executive promised to look into how to organise similar events on a more regular basis. So, EFTRE hopes to see you soon in another Zoom seminar!