LH.20.005 – Religious education in pubic schools

Route: Living history

Cluster question: 050 What is the secret of a resilient society?

In media discussions, parliamentary debates, and in practices concerning religion in public education in the Netherlands, not much attention has been paid to its history. Historians, sociologists and pedagogues did pay attention to religion and religious education in the free (bijzondere) schools (often religiously based) – , to such an extent, that it seems as if religious education was absent in the public school. This impression is strengthened by the non-religious image of public education alongside the dominance of specific Christian schools. It seems religion is separated from the public school since 1857 (first law on primary education under the 1848 constitution, igniting the Christian school movement). Associations around public schools try to solve this separation until today. This project supports these. In this research the public school is taken as a pars pro toto for the public sphere, and the tension between public and religious as one of its present characteristics. The project shifts the focus from the present to the history of religious education in public schools. If religion was excluded from the curriculum, when, by whom, for what reason; and how was it debated? And if religion was in the curriculum, how was it taught, why, when, by whom and with what teaching materials? The project aims to change the perspective of the present public debate: instead of focusing on the polarization around religion, attention is paid to the history of dealing with religion at public schools. This history offers a way more hybrid picture than present polarized positions suggest. Our society has a legacy of adaptation and resilience in store that should be applied to present tensions. Religion in the public school may never have been an easy match, but practices and experiences of previous generations may help to ease tensions and sustain cooperation in society.


Religion public history education

Other organisations

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


Organisation Theological University Kampen (TUK)
Name Prof. dr. G. (George) Harinck
E-mail gharinck@tukampen.nl
Website www.tukampen.nl