When Terror Strikes: The 2015 Paris Attacks in Religious Education Classrooms in Norway
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionToft, A. (2020). When Terror Strikes: The 2015 Paris Attacks in Religious Education Classrooms in Norway. Religions, 11(4). https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11040208
Terrorism is commonly considered to be a controversial issue in religious education (RE). RE teachers find it a challenging topic to address, and many avoid it altogether. This article explores the question of addressing terrorism in RE by analysing and discussing empirical observations of RE lessons in an upper secondary school in Norway in the weeks following the terror attacks in Paris in November 2015. Using framing theory, the article discusses aspects of the empirical case study, contextualised by the discussion about controversial issues in education. The main claim of the article is that, rather than seeing the terror attacks as a controversial issue in itself, the terror attacks should be treated as an event that has the potential to tap into several different controversial issues depending on the way it is framed. When addressed in the RE classroom, the teachers actively transform the event into a pedagogical issue, framed in accordance with the nature and aims of the subject. The students, however, often contest this pedagogical framing. This article discusses the interplay between teachers’ plans, students’ reactions, and the role of media in classroom interaction about the Paris attacks.