READY – The Project at a Glance
In contemporary European societies children grow up and form their identities in a world of diversity and plurality. Together with the increasing number of multi-faith classrooms, this emphasises the need to equip prospective teachers and teacher educators, and thereby also pupils, with adequate inter-religious and intercultural skills and competences that allow them to navigate such complex and diverse contexts and cope with the resulting implications for the individual life-styles. Subjects like Religious Education (RE) or Ethics play an important role in facilitating the discussion of these issues and offering answers and explanations.
RE in public schools in Europe is designed in many ways. Each country’s respective situation and form of organization differs significantly for mainly historical reasons. Despite the different contexts, an increasingly widespread discussion about the possible future of RE takes place. These discussions, however, are rarely linked together and have not yet reached the level of teacher education and training. Future religion teachers are normally only rather superficially familiar with the situation of RE (and related subjects) in other European countries and thus insufficiently prepared for a joint European perspective.
In addition, RE is faced with growing religious and ideological diversity of pupils and stakeholders alike across the entire European area. Current changes to the curricula and school structure, as well as wider debates on religion in the public sphere, have produced noticeable controversy about the place of RE in schools, how it should be delivered and what young people should be taught.
The scope and purpose of the READY project
In the three-year Erasmus+ project "Religious Education and Diversity – Sharing experiences of and approaches to teacher education in the context of 'Education and Training 2020' (READY)", teacher training institutions in Germany, England, Austria, Scotland and Sweden are therefore exploring the topic ‘Religion and Diversity’ in two respects: the mutual exchange of diverse forms of Religious Education and the variety of approaches to subject teaching and learning, in which the question of religious heterogeneity is considered and discussed. The results are being examined and proposals for teaching Religion and Diversity in Europe will be published.
The main target group of the project are teacher trainees for Religious Education. The project began with a structured online communication between trainee teachers from different European countries. This process lead to the development of educational modules on ‘Religion and Diversity’ exchanged between the teacher education institutions.
At the same time, profile descriptions of the situation of religion teacher education in the participating countries were exchanged, an interactive READY website was set up, which begins to unfold the diversity of RE across Europe, and a guideline for one week study visits was developed.
In the second year of the project, groups of teacher educators and trainee teachers observed RE lessons in a European partner country for a week and held discussions with trainee teachers, pupils and stakeholders responsible for RE. These experiences were analysed on the basis of a practical guide to European RE, and processed and documented. In parallel to these exchanges, local model RE lessons on “Religion and Diversity” were systematically evaluated and their delivery in the classroom also partly videotaped. The pupils will be encouraged to establish eTwinning contacts with a RE class in a partner country and in this way deepen their knowledge and experience of religious diversity across Europe.
The Proposed Impact of READY
From the very beginning, the entire project has been designed to achieve broad dissemination and a long-term impact, which is facilitated by the experience, expertise, contacts and structures of the Comenius Institute Münster. This includes, inter alia, a READY Newsletter, an interactive READY website, two national study days in Tübingen and London, a two-day final conference in Vienna and a documentation of key project results in book form.
READY focuses mainly on issues of didactics and pedagogy. The results of the project can, however, also be used by stakeholders and decision makers of state, churches and other religious communities.
Who is Involved?
The READY project consortium consists of six institutions, five of them preparing student teachers to teach Religious Education (RE) in state funded schools. All these partners have close and permanent working contacts with RE teachers and leaders of secondary schools and established local networks which will continuously accompany the project:
Karlstad University / Sweden
Kirchliche Pädagogische Hochschule, Wien-Krems / Austria
Staatliches Seminar für Didaktik und Lehrerbildung (Gymnasium) Tübingen / Germany (co-ordinating organisation)
University of Aberdeen, School of Education / Scotland
University College London, School of Education / England
The sixth partner, the Comenius Institut Münster, an internationally renowned Protestant Centre for Research and Development in education, is responsible for quality management, academic monitoring and dissemination processes.