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Witness and education

This research project aims to clarify and describe content and function of the witness role within a hermeneutical-communicative vision on religious education (RE) in Christian secondary schools.

Seen from the hermeneutical-communicative perspective teachers RE are to fulfill the pedagogical roles of witness, specialist and moderator (Pollefeyt, 2004, 2005). Pedagogical goals are to inform students about facts and diversity in religious practices and worldview (specialist), to connect students to traditions of religions and other meaning systems (moderator),  and thirdly to connect students to an authentic source, which is the teacher him/herself (witness), in order to stimulate their students to relate themselves to RE themes in regard to personal growth and citizenship (‘life-view’).

In the self-disclosure of the witness role teachers seem vulnerable because this asks them to open up and share what has a deep personal meaning. Secondly the witness role is not professionally defined, so teachers RE lack parameters to know how to perform this role to meet the pedagogical goal of sensitizing students in ‘life-view’.