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EDSC601 Working with Children and Young People: Ethics, Values and Practices

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit is based on the Re-imagining Childhood Initiative (CESA 2014) that foregrounds the dignity of children, acknowledging them as competent and accomplished beings. The unit explores the constructs of childhood from sociological, anthropological, cultural, psychological, historical and philosophical perspectives. The unit's major focus will be on the nature of childhood from a Christian perspective, developing a rich theology of childhood. Participants will be required to bring this knowledge into critical dialogue with their own belief stance, and assess its implications for safeguarding the wellbeing of children and developing an appropriate culture in Catholic schools.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - critically reflect on ways, in working with teams, to increase understanding of the broad range of conceptualisations of childhood in contemporary scholarship, in relation to wellbeing and safety of children and young people (GA1, GA4; APST: HA 4.4; Lead 7.1)

LO2 - provide a critical and nuanced account of a theology of childhood from the perspective of the major beliefs of Catholic faith and apply this account to the task of safeguarding children's wellbeing in educational settings, particularly Catholic schools (GA4, GA9; APST: HA 4.4; Lead 7.1) 

LO3 - articulate effective strategies to assist others to develop deep understandings of Catholic moral and social teaching on the dignity and sacredness of children (GA1, GA2; APST: HA 4.1, 4.4; Lead 7.1)

LO4 - evaluate the most effective ways to develop understanding of the settings in which children are vulnerable (GA2, GA4; APST: HA 4.4; Lead 7.1).

Graduate attributes

GA1 - demonstrate respect for the dignity of each individual and for human diversity

GA2 - recognise their responsibility to the common good, the environment and society 

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Highly Accomplished

On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards:

4.1 Model effective practice and support colleagues to implement inclusive strategies that engage and support all students.

4.4 Initiate and take responsibility for implementing current school and/or system, curriculum and legislative requirements to ensure student wellbeing and safety.

Australian Professional Standards for Teachers - Highly Accomplished

On successful completion of this unit, students should have gained evidence towards the following standards:

7.1 Model exemplary ethical behaviour and exercise informed judgements in all professional dealings with students, colleagues and the community.


Topics will include:

  • Conceptualizations of childhood (sociological, anthropological, historical, socio-economic, and psychological) in relation to the wellbeing and safety of children and young people
  • The Catholic theological tradition in relation to childhood and children:
  • Creation: coming to be in relationship
  • Children and human brokenness (original sin)
  • Children in the ministry of Jesus
  • Children and the experience of grace: “close to the mystery of God”
  • Catholic moral and social teaching, valuing the dignity and sacredness of children
  • Close investigation of the implications of UNICEF’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
  • Implications of a theology of childhood for the safeguarding of children’s wellbeing in education settings, particularly Catholic Schools
  • The identity and role of the teacher/counsellor/school leader in developing and applying a theology of childhood.

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit offers students the opportunity to reconsider their conceptions of children and childhood and, therefore, their educational practice, from the perspective of both recent sociology and developmental psychology of childhood, and the Christian theological tradition. The learning and teaching strategy utilized begins with students’ experience of children’s dignity, vulnerability, and giftedness, and considers the implications of the Christian doctrines of creation, original sin (brokenness) and grace in that context. The learning process invites students to articulate a vibrant, contemporary theology of childhood.


This unit is offered in intensive mode, either on campus or online . The use of LEO will be integral in exploring concepts and testing understandings and propositions. Strategies used will include lectures and reading, self-directed learning, participant critical reflection against relevant professional standards with particular reference to the Australian Professional Standards for Principals and Leadership and appropriate standard descriptors from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers, case studies, engagement with the literature, dialogue and interrogation of concepts, theories and practices, and the application to current professional contexts.


150 hours in total with a normal expectation of 24 hours of directed study and the total contact hours should not exceed 24 hours. Directed study might include lectures, tutorials, webinars, podcasts etc. The balance of the hours then become private study 

A “Record of Completion” will be granted for the completion of three one-day professional development workshops or, on completion of the assessment item/s, credit may be granted into a Masters or Graduate Certificate university-accredited program. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The Communication Task assesses students’ grasp of the approach to theological reflection on which this unit is based. The Integrative Response to Journal entails students reflecting on their own learning and integrating that into their educational practice. The Essay draws together students’ learning about the key theological themes of the Unit, and their reflection about how those themes are integrated into their educational practice.

In order to pass this Unit, students are required to participate in the Forum (see study schedule), submit all tasks and achieve an overall grade of 50% or above. The assessment tasks for this Unit are designed for students to demonstrate their achievement of each learning outcome.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Assessment Task 1

Communication Task

For example: online forum post, responding to key readings and in dialogue with the participant’s professional context


LO1, LO2

GA1, GA4, GA9

Assessment Task 2

Critical Reflection

For example: Integrative response to Journal


LO2, LO3

GA2, GA4

Assessment Task 3

Written Task

For example: essay


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA1, GA2, GA4, GA9

Representative texts and references

Bunge, M. (2001). The Child in Christian Thought. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Burke, C. (2004). “Theories of Childhood,” in Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood in History and Society. Retrieved from

Corsaro, W. A. (2015). The Sociology of Childhood (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Dillen, A. “Theologizing with Children: A New Paradigm for Catholic Religious Education in Belgium.” In International Handbook of Catholic Education: Challenges for School Systems in the 21st Century. Ed. Gerald Grace and Joseph O’Keefe. 347-66. Dodrecht: Springer, 2007.

Gundry-Volf, J. (2000). “To Such as These Belongs the Reign of God: Jesus and Children.” Theology Today 56 (4): 469-80.

Hinsdale, M. A. (2001). “‘Infinite Openness to the Infinite’: Karl Rahner’s Contribution to Modern Catholic Thought on the Child,” in The Child in Christian Thought. Ed. Marcia J. Bunge. 406-45. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

James, A., & Prout, A. (2015). Constructing and Reconstructing Childhood: Contemporary Issues in the Sociological Study of Childhood (3rd ed.). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

McEvoy, J. G. (2019) “Towards a Theology of Childhood: Children’s Agency and the Reign of God.” Theological Studies 80 (3): 673-91.

Mercer, J. A. (2005). Welcoming Children: A Practical Theology of Childhood. St Louis, MO: Chalice.

Rahner, K. (1971). “Ideas for a Theology of Childhood.” Theological Investigations Volume VIII: Further Theology of the Spiritual Life. Trans. David Bourke. 33-50. New York: Herder & Herder.

Rinaldi, C. (2013). Re-imagining childhood: The Inspiration of Reggio Emilia Education Principles in South Australia. Adelaide: Government of South Australia

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