The Place of Religion in the School Curriculum

Given the secular nature of government schools in Australia it is commonly assumed that teaching about religion is not permitted. This is not in fact the case as Dr Kevin Donnelly, Senior Fellow at the PM Glynn Institute, explains in The Place of Religion in the School Curriculum.

Intended as a resource for teachers, parents and curriculum designers, this monograph outlines what Australian schools teach currently in relation to the moral and spiritual values and beliefs of the various religions. Significant is that the Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration – the road map for Australian schools endorsed by education ministers – suggests that enriching students’ “emotional, moral, spiritual” wellbeing is an essential aspect of their education.

The paper draws in part on some of Dr Donnelly’s work for the 2014 review of the national curriculum. This remains the most recent extensive and detailed review of the national curriculum to date, and many of the issues raised in that report and in submissions to it about religion in the curriculum remain unaddressed.

In addition to surveying the issues involved, the paper outlines the reasons for including religion and teaching ethics in the curriculum. The paper also summarises the provisions of various state laws which expressly permit teaching religion in government schools, both in separate religious education classes and in the general curriculum. The paper concludes by briefly outlining three models for incorporating religion into the curriculum for consideration.

Download The Place of Religion in the School Curriculum

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