Textbook Violence - James R. Lewis

Textbook Violence - James R. Lewis

Talking about Conflicts in Pursuit of the Common Good, or how to Handle Sensible Topics while Learning about Religions: The Approach of Ethics and Religious Culture Textbooks in Quebec

Textbook Violence - James R. Lewis

Sivane Hirsch [+-]
University of Québec at Trois–Rivières
Sivane Hirsch, a Professor at the Department of Education at the University of Québec at Trois–Rivières (UQTR), holds a dual Ph.D. in Sociology (Paris-Descartes) and education (Laval University, Québec). Her thesis analyzes the perception university students in Québec, France and Israel have of contemporary spirituality as well as the way they integrate it in their daily lives. She furthered studied the role of religion in education as part of a postdoctoral research at the University of Montreal, within a larger project that analysed the role of education in the relations between the Jewish community and other Quebecers. This included, at one hand, the representation of the community, its history and its culture in the curriculum, and on another hand, the articulation of the Québec’s Education program with the specific educational project of Montreal's Jewish schools. Her current research concentrates on the treatment of religious and cultural diversity as well as other acute issues regarding religious markers in classrooms, studying mostly the challenges and opportunities associated with these teachings and its contribution to the relations between ethnic communities within schools.


The “Ethics and religious culture” (ERC) program tries to achieve two primary objectives: the recognition of others and the pursuit of the common good, while placing an emphasis on “the search for common values, the promotion of projects that foster community life and respect for democratic principles and ideals specific to Quebec society” (MELS, 2008). Each of the three competencies that the student should develop throughout this program – i.e., to learn to reflect on ethical questions, to demonstrate an understanding of the phenomena of religion and to engage in a dialogue – participate differently in this large mandate. However, they all have the intention of making a place for diversity in the classroom. Speaking of conflict, and even more so of religious conflict, is therefore not an easy task: how should a teacher bring up conflicts between religions or even within a religion without offending some of his/her students or even worse, bring this conflict into his/her classroom? The program broaches this theme in a historical perspective by discussing “Peace and conflict: religious conquests, ecumenism, dialogue between religions, etc.” as a part of the theme “religions down through time.” But how do ERC textbooks discuss this subject, if they even bring it up? This chapter offers to examine the treatment of religious conflicts in the ERC textbooks. We wish not only to build a general portrait of this treatment but also to reflect on its strengths and weaknesses through an analysis that considers recommended approaches for teaching sensible topics that appear in established literature. Thus we demonstrate not only the difficulties of discussing this subject in a secular society like Quebec, but also the importance of doing so.

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Hirsch, Sivane. Talking about Conflicts in Pursuit of the Common Good, or how to Handle Sensible Topics while Learning about Religions: The Approach of Ethics and Religious Culture Textbooks in Quebec. Textbook Violence. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 87-97 Aug 2017. ISBN 9781781792599. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=30514. Date accessed: 30 Jan 2023 doi: 10.1558/equinox.30514. Aug 2017

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