NCSR 2008 - Urban Diversity and Religious Traditions
13-15 August 2008, Åbo Akademi University

Gender and agency in religious education (RE) workbooks: Collective memory, regional socialisation and creative learning

Elisabet Haakedal, University of Agder

A little more than one hundred religious education workbooks from seven to twelve-year-old pupils (spread over the period from 1955 to 2005) have been studied with a focus on the following research questions: How may one distinguish regional, local and personal factors in a collection of pupils’ RE workbooks? What are the characteristic features of such factors? How may a small number of expressions with a high degree of regional, local and personal features be interpreted, especially with regard to typically gendered features? Distinctive features have been found, features indicating a process of secularisation and some interesting variations with regard to the pupils' sex/ gender, particularly in workbooks from the so-called 'Bible-belt' on the southern coast of Norway. The paper documents and discusses - in the light of collective memory theory as well as socialisation theory - possible meanings of some workbook expressions chosen according to a set of introductorily expl! ored criteria. At the end of the paper a short comparison is made between the chosen expressions and expressions primarily testifying to a high degree of central institutional influencing factors (explored in a previous study).