A report on religious education in Catholic schools has confirmed the need for it to remain grounded in the tradition of the Catholic Church while being responsive and relevant for all students. Source: ACU.
The report, “Ways Forward in Religious Education” was published by Australian Catholic University’s La Salle Academy.
Summarising the perspectives of 57 leading Catholic education scholars and practitioners from around Australia, the report reinforced the significance of teachers who are formed in faith and able to teach in ways that promote inclusion through experiential and inquiry-based processes.
The report emerged from a dynamic and innovative process which modelled RE as a dialogical experience. The outcomes of the professional sharing and deliberations situated RE at the forefront of curriculum endeavours integral to Catholic school identity and mission.
“While much has been achieved in Religious Education over many decades, we find ourselves unsettled about our current predicament,” said Dean of La Salle Academy, David Hall FMS in his introduction to the colloquium.
“We are not sure if what we are doing is really hitting the mark," Professor Hall said. "The Colloquium brings together parents, academics, Catholic Education personnel, Campus Ministry, and leaders of Religious Institutes who all bring ‘a piece of the wisdom’. The challenge is one of dialogue, respectful listening, networking and learning about advancing ways forward in Religious Education.”
The report identified five interdependent characteristics integral to RE in Catholic schools – formation, pedagogy, curriculum, research, and partnerships. These characteristics were underpinned by the catechist manual, Foundations in Faith, and advanced by key principles within a culture of being authentic and strategic.
“For some authorities and participants, the 'fruits' of the colloquium expanded horizons, while for others, emerging and familiar pathways were validated,” Professor Hall said.
Associate author Bill Sultmann added that the report, “Will ideally have a significant bearing on teaching and strategy in Religious Education”.
“Moreover, it confirmed the value of partnerships in fostering life-giving pathways in Religious Education. While there is much to do, there is also incredible innovation and insightful intention that offers much encouragement and hope," Associate Professor Sultmann said.