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From the Vatican to the classroom PART 2: examining intertextuality and alignment among Church, local diocesan and school religious education documents
“Contemporary educational practice is saturated with texts… ”(Freebody, 2003, p. 204) They inform, guide and shape policy, procedures and practices within schools both systemically and locally. Religious education is filled with such texts: Church and diocesan policy documents, curriculum documents and classroom religion programs. But to what extent are these documents aligned with each other? Does the classroom religion program reflect diocesan curriculum documents and policy and in turn, do diocesan policies and curriculum documents authentically translate official Church policy? This presentation demonstrates how an analysis of the crafted language in educational texts can reveal how that text both reflects and constructs a particular reality. What messages are conveyed? Do the documents in fact say what the authors intend? Do they relate to, and support, other relevant documents? Systemic Functional Linguistics is a rigorous analytic tool that affords clear insights into the crafted language of educational texts. As one way of portraying the usefulness of such a tool in gaining insights into how language constructs particular messages, this presentation will exemplify what it reveals about the conveyed experiences and realities among Church, diocesan and school religious education documents.
Leading Catholic Schools in an Era of Religious Diversity
In 2001 Brisbane Catholic Education opened its first ecumenical school at Gaven in a major growth area in the Gold Coast corridor. Three more schools have followed. All arose from requests from the local community in major growth areas. There was already significant co-operative work taking place among faith groups in the provision of services to their communities. In each case the initial request was supported by the leaders of these churches in the Brisbane region. The expertise and infrastructure of Catholic Education was then used to bring the proposal to reality.
This paper outlines the philosophy of these schools. Their development poses questions for those who lead Catholic schools in more traditional frameworks. Is there a need for more intentional and clear enrolment and religious education policies that provide for a more traditional Catholic approach? Alternatively, should school leaders look to define an intentional religious education and pastoral program that first seeks to understand the religious and family background of students and to intentionally address their issues as part of its overall school program?
Future Catholic Schools: Exclusive, Inclusive and Plural Options
Among the outcomes of the events of September 11 has been a flurry of new laws to identify suspect individuals, as well as the creation of policies to promote cultural integration. Communities are involved in a determined struggle to shore up their defence capabilities while simultaneously looking for new ways to communicate with each across cultural divides (Fullilove, 2008). This hydra-headed concern for security and for cross-cultural engagement is a characteristic of the contemporary world. Australian Catholic schools inhabit this cultural terrain. It is causing new questions to be asked about the nature and purpose of the schools and to re-assess the imagery that has sustained the schools in this country for almost two centuries.
The ambivalence in the broader community is mirrored among people concerned for the present and future of Australian Catholic schools: some seek to exclude those who are not “us”; others argue enthusiastically for their integration into the life of the Catholic school. Gabriel Moran has said that there is good news and bad news in all this: the good news is that no one knows more than me about how to proceed; the bad news is that no one knows more than me about how to proceed (Moran, 2007). If there is validity in this dictum, prospects for Australian Catholic schools involve greater complexity, more robust debate about future steps and an era of change for all. Some refinement in the guiding assumptions, policies and practices of education in Australian Catholic schools is a near certainty.
The following discussion will focus on the enrolment in Catholic schools of students who are not Catholics. The question of inclusion of staff and others who are not Catholics in Catholic schools has its own complexities but those will not be considered directly here.
Non-Catholic Students’ Experiences in Catholic High Schools: Findings from Two Qualitative Studies
This paper examined the experiences of two groups of non-Catholic students in Catholic high schools in two Western Canadian provinces. The first group was composed of ten non-Catholic graduates of a Catholic high school. The second group was composed of twelve current non-Catholic high school students unequally spread out within five Catholic high schools. The combined emergent themes of these studies produced, among other things, two significant themes: the importance of the religious commitment of the non-Catholic family to the student’s positive or negative religious experience in the school and the non-Catholic students’ understanding of faith and religion resulting from her or his high school experiences in a Catholic high school.
The Religious Participation and Spiritual Development of Young People in Catholic Schools: A Longitudinal View
This paper reports on the first phase of a six year longitudinal studyi of the spiritual development of young people aged 11-17 years that attend Catholic schools in the Northern NSW Diocese of Lismore, Australia, and in the Diocese of Galway, Ireland. The project is investigating the factors that shape and influence the spiritual lives of these young people, with a particular focus on the students’ perceptions of Catholic schooling. Survey and interview data from year 5 primary school students in both Australia and Ireland indicates secure and confident children, who are proud of their religious affiliation. However, in Australia, these children rarely participate in religious practices outside the school. This is in contrast to the religious practice of Irish students. With the exception of a few highly committed individuals, it emerged that most students held a strong Deistic conception of God, and moreover, expected that they would most likely become “less religious” as they moved across the transition from Primary to Secondary School.
Religious Education and Methodology in the Post-modern age
Post-modern shifts in educational methodology, which privilege discourse analysis and a multi-literate approach in the delivery of secondary education, have impacted strongly on secondary education in the last decade. The shift from a narrower view of literacy (Reading and writing) to Multi-literate approaches to education present serious challenges to the way in which Study of Religion is currently being taught in senior secondary schools. Furthermore, these shifts are arguably rendering phenomenological methodologies out-dated and less equipped to engage student potential for meaning-making. The context of this study is secondary school curriculum as determined by the Queensland Studies Authority. Also, references to Religious Education presuppose curriculum set by Brisbane Catholic Education. Consequently this study does reflect experiences associated with this very specific educational context. However, this study may have relevance to other systems in other Australian states and could generate pertinent conversations within those specific educational contexts.
Values Education and Religious Education: Rivalry or Synergy?
At one time, values education was equated with moral and civic education, and subsumed under religious education. With the development of secular state systems, an increasing number of educators disavowed responsibility for religious education, and for several decades celebrated the “value-neutrality” of the public school – a nonsense, of course. Currently, for reasons mentioned below, there is much discussion in the public arena about values education, often with the implicit confidence that there will be no need to bring religious education into that debate. It is therefore timely to explore the nature of the links, if any, between religious education (RE) and values education (VE).
How can religious education be moral?
(This paper was presented at the International Seminar in Religious Education and Values (ISREV) meeting in Driebergen, Netherlands, 2006)
In our world of religious and political diversity, where religious traditions often claim exclusive and contradicting visions of what is true or false, what is just or unjust, what is moral or immoral, indeed, what is reasonable or unreasonable, how can religious education be moral? In what follows, I will address the issue of how religious education is moral by using (or introducing, perhaps, for some) the recent work of philosopher of education David T. Hansen and suggesting its compatibility with centuries old wisdom traditions of diverse cultures and religious traditions.
Christian Service Learning in Catholic Schools
This article sets out a rationale for implementing Christian service-learning in Catholic schools. The article initially explores Jesus’ Gospel call to serve. A brief summary of Catholic social doctrine is then presented and the concept of service-learning is discussed. Four categories of community outreach by Catholic schools are outlined, these being community service, Christian service, service-learning within a Christian context, and faith-focused Christian service-learning. Finally, various implications for promoting Christian service-learning in Catholic schools are considered in the light of the principles of charity and service as outlined in the encyclical letter Deus Caritas Est.
The Purpose of Values Education
The purpose of Values Education, then, is for ‘the school to think about positive, universal values and the ways to develop and express them, and to inspire pupils to live expressing positive values in their lives’. Neil Hawkes, National Values Education Forum Report, Australia (2006 p25)
This paper has been written to argue that the purpose of Values Education is for schools to think about positive, universal values, such as respect and honesty, and to consider the ways to develop and express them through the curriculum; that this process should inspire pupils to express positive values in their lives. The author believes that what society lacks is a shared values vocabulary that is explored, understood and modelled in schools, and that without it children cannot develop their moral, ethical thinking.
Educating the Next Generation in Universal Values? Hindu-related New Religious Movements and Values Education in the Common School
This article compares two values education programmes currently available for UK schools and the Hindu-related organizations—the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University and the Sathya Sai Service Organisation UK—with which they are associated. Attention is paid to the development of the programmes and the reasons for their implementation in certain schools. We conclude by considering the relevance of the ‘cultic’ provenance for schools’ uptake and the question whether the programmes are Hindu in content.
Values education: Bridging the religious and secular divide
Recent research into factors impacting on student attainment has exposed the potential of ‘quality teaching’ to exercise a positive influence on their achievement. Extending the notion of teacher beyond surface and factual learning, quality teaching, as defined in the literature, has posited conceptions of “intellectual depth”, “communicative competence” and “self-reflection.” as being central to effective learning. Implicit in these conceptions are values dimensions reflected in notions of positive relationships, the centrality of student welfare, school coherence, ambience and organization. The influences of these on student learning, welfare and progress have been observed widely across all sectors, confirming earlier studies of similar phenomena in religious schools. At the same time, new research insights are challenging some of the assumptions held by religious schools in earlier times that part of the religious school’s distinctiveness was to be found around the values agenda. Evidence from the Australian Government’s Values Education Good Schools Project (VEGPSP) (AGDEST, 2006) indicates the benefit to schools, religious or otherwise, of reflecting on, re-evaluating and rethinking the implications of ‘values education’, as defined, for curricula, classroom management and school ethos in the interests of student well-being and progress. Hence, it is proposed, values education is being seen increasingly as having outgrown any earlier conceptions of dependence on religious education and, in turn, yet another of the cosmetically defined differences between religious and public schooling is being stripped away.
Socratic Circles As A Learning Strategy In Values Education And Interfaith And Intercultural Understanding
This paper gives an account of the work of the Melbourne Interfaith and Intercultural Cluster, undertaken in association with the Values Education Good School Practice Project, sponsored by the Australian Commonwealth Government between the years 2006-2008. In particular this paper examines the use of Socratic Circles as a teaching and learning strategy for values education and interfaith and intercultural understanding.
Should Religious Educators Be Wary Of Values Education?
This paper considers the features of Values Education, as a whole-school approach to moral development, notably the emphasis on example and habituation, supported by discussion and reflection, based on universal values. Four main questions are addressed, the breadth and precision of the values identified, the emphasis on universal values, how Values Education relates to the wider educational process and its link with spiritual development. Using the term virtues for intra- and inter-personal values is suggested and the idea of primary and secondary values raised. It is argued that Values Education has many of the features of a tradition, but that two main hazards must be avoided, too general and unspecific a view of values within a culturally diverse society and too narrow and individualistic an approach to spiritual development. The relationship with Religious Education and potential for RE to enrich Values Education are considered.
The Motor Mission: The Provision of Religious Education for Catholic Children outside Catholic Schools
Drawing extensively on primary source material and supported by the personal recollections of some of those who participated in the scheme, this paper will outline the history of the Motor Mission in Australia with particular reference to the rural and metropolitan Motor Mission in NSW. The significance of the contribution of the Motor Mission to the ministry of Religious Education of Catholic Children beyond Catholic Schools over the past fifty years will be explored.
Nurturing Faith Within the Catholic Home: A Perspective from Catholic Parents who do not Access Catholic Schools
Irrespective of years of genuine effort by the Catholic Church in Australia to support parents in their task of nurturing the faith of their children, the area of family catechesis still remains inadequately addressed. This study is the first major Australian qualitative study conducted with parents who do not access the Catholic school. In the Australian context, most studies in the area of faith development and religious education have been conducted with the parents of children who access the Catholic school system. This research provided insight into how Catholic parents who do not send their children to Catholic Schools, nurture the faith of their children within the context of family life. It identified how this particular group of parents nurture the faith of their children and the challenges faced in trying to carry out this responsibility effectively.
From the Vatican to the classroom: Examining intertextuality and alignment among Church, local diocesan and school religious education documents – PART 1
This is Part 1 of a paper that examines this subject.
“Contemporary educational practice is saturated with texts… ” (Freebody, 2003, p. 204) They inform, guide and shape policy, procedures and practices within schools both systemically and locally. Religious education is filled with such texts: Church and diocesan policy documents, curriculum documents and classroom religion programs. But to what extent are these documents aligned with each other? Does the classroom religion program reflect diocesan curriculum documents and policy and in turn, do diocesan policies and curriculum documents authentically translate official Church policy? This presentation demonstrates how an analysis of the crafted language in educational texts can reveal how that text both reflects and constructs a particular reality. What messages are conveyed? Do the documents in fact say what the authors intend? Do they relate to, and support, other relevant documents? Systemic Functional Linguistics is a rigorous analytic tool that affords clear insights into the crafted language of educational texts. As one way of portraying the usefulness of such a tool in gaining insights into how language constructs particular messages, this presentation will exemplify what it reveals about the conveyed experiences and realities among Church, diocesan and school religious education documents.
Talent, tolerance and tact: on avoiding the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth: A question of talent
Tolerance, pluralism and freedom are necessary to Christian humanism. Some boundary is necessary for this humanism to be part of religious education. Not all interpretations are defensible if religious education is to remain Catholic. Religious education, because it has some answers that seem to explain what humans are, has to resist the temptation to intolerance, to stifling all doubt, and to refusing to listen to those who disagree. We are all called to develop our talents and warned we will be thrown out into the dark if we do not. This article explores these concepts.
Issues in Seminary Education for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Papua New Guinea
This paper makes a serious attempt to re-awaken discussion for needed change and to encourage the implementation of more appropriate ways of PNG learning styles in the ELCPNG seminaries. Education should not just meet the formal needs of the educational purists. It should also engage the students in ways of being and learning that are freedom producing and emancipatory. In this way, education becomes concerned with issues of personal meaning and understanding that grow out of authenticity and autonomy – not just authenticity and autonomy of the educational institution and/or the institution’s academic staff, but also within the lived-life experiences of the students.
Thomist Pedagogy for Catholic Religious Education
In the first decades of the modern age, a number of Catholic thinkers from a variety of disciplines focused their attention on how Catholics ought to engage this new, rapidly secularizing world. They were forced to think through a problem that was presenting itself in the West for the first time since the reign of Constantine, namely, how and whether Christian moral formation could be undertaken in a culture drastically at odds with Christian teaching and practice. (Beer, 2004)
Implementing systemic reform in a challenging context: developing effective RE curriculum for 21st century learners
In a context of geographic, cultural and theological diversity, religious education curriculum in the Northern Territory is undergoing a metamorphosis. This change has been driven by questions about effective pedagogy and professional development in a diocese with a large turnover of teachers each year, and a high percentage of teachers with limited qualifications in religious education or theology. This paper seeks to explore some of the decisions and factors that have influenced this systemic reform, and the challenges in trying to develop an effective curriculum for students that is enjoyable and meaningful. In capturing some critical learnings through the journey so far, it is important to acknowledge that new questions and challenges are emerging. An effective religious education program relies upon many other factors apart from an appropriate curriculum, and these issues will need to be explored if religious education is really going to be the priority learning area in the curriculum of any Catholic school.
The New Teaching Paradigm Guidelines for Teaching – Part 1
Since the close of the Vatican Council in 1965, the Church has proclaimed that the covenant of God with the Jewish people has “never been revoked” (cf. John Paul II, 1980; Romans 11:29), and that the Jews “still remain most dear to God” (Nostra Aetate, #4). These statements and subsequent documents on the Church’s relationship to Jews and Judaism connote a change of heart towards the Jewish people. Such a shift in thinking is known as a paradigm change. The article discusses paradigm change in relation to the new Teaching Paradigm Guidelines for Teaching.
Preparing for ‘Top Down’ Curriculum Change
This paper reports on the theory generated from a study of the management of a major ‘top down’ curriculum change in the highly specialised area of religious education from the perspective of the religious education coordinator (REC). It identifies how RECs prepared for the management of the change and provides information about the key issues they addressed in order to manage the change. Emanating from a grounded theory approach some of the key issues pertaining to the theory generated were: the RECs’ initiatives to become informed about the change; strategies undertaken to inform teachers of religious education, providing opportunities for teachers to dialogue about the change, exploring the textbooks underpinning the change in the light of existing curriculum and; decision making processes employed to bring about the change.
Religion by Post
Religious Education as Ministry: Pastoral Initiative in Provision of Religious Education for Catholic Children outside Catholic Schools
Religion by Post was a practical and successful scheme developed by Rev J. T. McMahon to provide religious education to isolated Catholic children in remote areas of outback Western Australia. Working in the role of Diocesan Inspector of Catholic Schools in Western Australia in the 1920s, McMahon discovered that many Catholic children lived in isolated country regions with no access to a school of any form – Catholic or State. These children were experiencing the positive results from the practical response of the State Education Department of Western Australia in 1918 to provide secular instruction through correspondence lessons. Their parents requested from their Church a similar program for Religious Instruction. The organisation of ‘Catholic Bush Mission’ was established in 1924. Developed in the Archdiocese of Perth, religious education was provided by means of correspondence programs known as Religion by Post. The paper describes the development of this uniquely Australian pastoral response in the provision of religious education for Catholic children in isolated rural areas. It explores its innovative applications and extensions drawing extensively on primary source material, particularly the publications of Rev J.T. McMahon.
A Hermeneutic-Communicative Concept of Didactics of Religion in a European Multi-Religious Context
The evolution of religious pedagogics in the second half of the 20th century in Europe
The understanding of ‘Tradition’ has played an important role in Catholic religious pedagogics since early times. Its meaning and content have undergone several evolutions however, in the future it will have to continue being rethought (Wiederkehr, 1991). We will set out to analyse the different ways in which religious Tradition were perceived within the visions of Catholic religious education in the last decades and at the same time formulate our own vision of how religious education should interact with ‘Tradition’ in the future. Our area of emphasis will be the education of the Roman Catholic faith in (higher) secondary schools.
Catholic Secondary Students Perception of the Church’s Mission: Some Preliminary Findings
This research explored ways in which students in Catholic secondary schools in Aotearoa New Zealand engage with the Church’s mission in the world. Three aspects of the Church’s mission were identified from the papal encyclical God is love (2005) and informed by New Zealand Council of Proprietors of Catholic Schools statement on Catholic schools: The Declaration (1997). Students strongly identified as Catholic and showed apparent interest in being actively involved in the mission of the Church. However, this involvement may not follow the patterns of previous generations. One aim of the research was to scope some issues for a more detailed study of the relationship between Catholic secondary schools and the Parish. Some implications for Religious Education in Catholic secondary schools are also identified.
The Perceptions of Recently Assigned Secondary Religious Education Teachers
This article focuses on survey responses from newly appointed secondary Religious Education teachers from the first phase of a longitudinal study. The study was conducted in Catholic schools in three dioceses of Western Australia over two school years, from 1998 to 1999. The study focused on the teachers’ perceptions of implementing the Perth Archdiocesan Religious Education Units of Work. The article outlines briefly the demographic and professional backgrounds of recently appointed RE (RARE) teachers. Next, it reports upon how these teachers perceived their use of the instructional resources and teaching approach in the RE Units. The article then describes what RARE teachers believed were the key underlying principles to be followed in implementing the RE Units. Finally, a synopsis summarises the key findings to emerge from the survey responses. The responses suggest that teaching experience and ongoing formation are required for successful curriculum implementation among recently assigned RE teachers.
The Arts in Religious Education – a focus for ‘Deep Seeing’, Silence and Contemplation (Part Two)
This is part two of a paper that seeks to examine the essential role of the arts (e.g. visual arts, dance, poetry) in religious education as an authentic focus for the cultivation of ‘deep seeing’, silence and contemplation among teachers and students. Part One in the previous issue dealt with the topics of attentiveness and ‘deep seeing’. This final part of the article deals with the related links between attentiveness, silence and contemplation. The paper argues across both parts, principally from the perspective of painting, that the cultivation of these approaches helps to create a slower, more meditative approach to religious education, spirituality, and life. In addition, both stances assist those involved to ‘see’ more clearly or ‘be attentive’ at a deeper level to self, others, society, and God, and to respond more effectively to each.
Harry Potter, the Hero Journey and Religious Education
This article supplements the previous article regarding the series entitled “The use of the Harry Potter series in teaching values in Religious Education”, which was published in the Journal of Religious Education (55:4 2007). This article focuses specifically on the importance of the Hero Journey motif in the Harry Potter books and how this motif connects with young people.
In the previous article it was demonstrated how Rowling’s main characters reflect key values while this companion article makes mention of the effectiveness of hero narratives, especially the Harry Potter series, in teaching values. This article enlarges on how the hero journey motif is present in the Harry Potter series and how this motif particularly connects with our young people. It concludes that Hero Journey stories are effective resources for teaching especially in the area of Christian values.
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