Religions and philosophies of life reflect humanity's deepest questions, and have throughout history contributed to moulding individuals, communities and society. Knowledge of religions and philosophies of life is important for human beings to understand their existence and to gain an understanding of cultures within one's own society and in societies around the world. Children and adolescents of today encounter an overwhelming amount of cultural influence and traditional values. The Christian faith and traditions have characterised European and Norwegian culture for centuries. At the same time, traditional humanistic values have brought to western cultural heritage a wider scope of understanding. Religious and ethical diversity are becoming more and more important in society in general. Familiarising oneself with different religions, philosophies of life, ethics and philosophies is an important precondition for understanding and interpreting our lives, and for gaining ethical awareness and understanding across religious faiths and cultural borders.
Knowledge of Christianity, Religion, Philosophies of life and Ethics as a generally educative subject shall form the basis for a common platform for greater knowledge and as a frame of reference, and shall help the pupil gain new insight and allow for dialogue that is adapted to the various ages and year levels. Knowledge of religions and philosophies of life, and the function these have as traditions and as actual sources of faith, morals and understanding life are central themes in the subject. The subject shall be a meeting place for pupils from different cultures and backgrounds, where all shall be met with respect. Teaching in the subject shall stimulate general education, making room for wonder and reflection. Furthermore, the subject shall help the pupil learn to talk with other people that have different views of the world where questions of faith and philosophies of life are concerned. This involves respect for religious values, human rights in general and the ethical foundation of all human rights.
The subject shall teach knowledge of Christianity, other world religions and philosophies of life, and ethical and philosophical themes. It shall also teach the significance of Christianity as cultural heritage in our society. For this reason, about half of the teaching time of the subject will be used for Knowledge of Christianity. This involves allowing for local variations in the scope of subjects between the main subject areas in order to satisfy competence aims for the subject.
Knowledge of Christianity, Religion, Philosophies of life and Ethics is an ordinary school subject intended to bring all pupils together. The Norwegian Education Act demands that the teaching of this subject be objective, critical and pluralistic. This implies that the subject be taught impartially and based on facts, and that the different world religions and philosophies of life shall be presented with respect. Classroom teaching shall not include preaching, proselytising or religious practice. The principles of equivalent education shall be the basis for teaching in the subject. This involves treating all religions and philosophies of life in an academic and professional manner based on the distinctive characteristics and diversity of all religions.
Adapted education is a commanding principle for this subject. Teaching in the subject shall use varied and absorbing working methods, which can contribute to understanding in all aspects of the subject. Care must be used when selecting working methods. The careful choice of working methods is especially important when considering parents, guardians and pupils so that they feel their own religion or philosophy of life is respected and that the subject be experienced without seeming to exercise another religion or forming an affiliation to another philosophy of life. Respect for the views of individuals and local communities should be paramount.
If a pupil applies for exemption from part of ordinary education based on the provisions laid down in Section 2-3(a) of the Norwegian Education Act, then another form of adapted education shall take its place. It is expected that ongoing cooperation be maintained between home and school, which includes good information about how education should be planned and carried out.
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