Religious Diversity and School: An Impossible Combination? (Re)Interpreting Islam in the School Scenario

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Abstract

In Italy the rapid and continuous growth of the migration phenomenon has also impacted on the school system over the years. According to the data provided by the Ministry of Education, the number of students with non-Italian citizenship (NIC) has changed from the number of 37,478 (1993/1994) to 857,729 (10% of the total school population) in the school year 2018/2019. Considering origin of countries, it has grown over the years up to reach a variety of more than 200 countries, that is almost the whole world, even though the most numerous communities of students NIC are from Romania, Albania and Morocco. As a matter of fact, this situation is also asso-ciated with cultural, linguistic and religious differences which are present in the school-training system; in fact, Italy is experiencing an increase in religious diversity. As an institution devoted to reception, the school has played a fundamental role towards immigration, by progressively adopting solutions which, from initial emer-gency stage, have developed with the purpose of ensuring the minors’ right to educa-tion in view of increasing presence of immigrants’ children, but also of the constant growth of students NIC born in Italy from migrant parents: “second generations” (64,5% of 857,729). Italian school, through the growing presence of students NIC, has been becoming increasingly a multicultural and multireligious school, a field of encounter between different cultures. For this reason, it needs, more and more, inter-cultural and interreligious education in order both to sow the seeds of innovative pedagogical and didactic actions, and prevent and tackle violent radicalisation and extremism. Since textbooks, along with pedagogical materials, do not simply pass on knowledge, but mirror the values of the society in which they are produced and used, a critical review of textbooks content should be constantly conducted by teachers, having an understanding of pedagogic content knowledge. Indeed, textbooks still show, in some cases, a stereotyped and ethnocentric vision of the world, following a mere monocultural approach. In particular, as far as the conception/perception of Is-lam and Muslims coming out from textbooks is concerned, it turns out that too many textbooks still tend to be Eurocentric, so they are inadequate in terms of providing students with a balanced understanding of Islam and Islamic societies. Consequently, without forgetting the issue of religious illiteracy and its effects on the social and po-litical milieu and by drawing attention to the importance of textbooks in good quality education policy, the first results of an analysis on the image of Muslims and Islam that emerges from the most popular and modern Italian religion textbooks for upper secondary school will be presented.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteProceedings of the 2nd International Conference of the Journal Scuola Democratica REINVENTING EDUCATION 2-5 June 2021 Volume 1 Citizenship, Work and The Global Age
Pagine85-96
Numero di pagine12
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2021
EventoInternational Conference of the Journal Scuola Democratica REINVENTING EDUCATION - Online
Durata: 2 giu 20215 giu 2021

Convegno

ConvegnoInternational Conference of the Journal Scuola Democratica REINVENTING EDUCATION
CittàOnline
Periodo2/6/215/6/21

Keywords

  • Religious Education
  • Italy
  • School
  • Islam

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