Moral Commitment and existential issues in religious and worldview education
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Education aims to give young people the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are necessary for life in a future society, but also to make them competent to criticize and change this society. Educational policies reflect these aims in different ways and often display a tension between affirmation and critique of the present social order and what this means even for the individual. In many countries, education about religions and worldviews is part of the curriculum, and this chapter discusses the possible contribution that issues of moral guidance, ethical reasoning, religious commitment, and existential questions can have to education as a moral enterprise. It is argued that focus on existential and moral issues in education in some ways can be seen to ‘disturb’ the qualification for work life, but that this is valuable in a wider perspective. An example is given from an action research project in upper secondary education, where dialogical approaches lead to questions of morality and existence being explored both within and between students. By learning about themselves and their peers through raising issues of religion, worldview, moral, and existential standpoints the students seemed to develop a relational type of self-guidance that may be helpful in risky and ‘liquid’ times. This chapter argues that public education is a moral enterprise, both in terms of its ethical foundation and because it aims to socialize young people into certain moral commitments that are seen as part of democratic citizenship. Since norms and values are diverse and contested, there is a need for religious and worldview education that can stimulate the reflection on how to deal with this plurality, on both a social and a personal level.