New religious education classes take ‘radical’ turn

Janina Starkey (The Catholic Weekly/Giovanni Portelli)

A new religious education curriculum that focuses on faith and reason will soon be rolled out in years 11 and 12 in Catholic schools across NSW. Source: The Catholic Weekly.

The new “Studies in Catholic Thought” curriculum was requested in 2015 by the NSW bishops, who expressed a desire for a common RE curriculum for the state's 10 dioceses.

The new course will replace the current year 11 and 12 elective subject, Catholic Studies, and will adopt a classic liberal arts approach, bringing together history, philosophy, music, culture and art.

According to the project officer for the new curriculum, Janina Starkey, it is a “radical departure” from current religion curricula in schools across NSW.

“At the heart of it is the integration of faith and reason,” Ms Starkey said. “That’s something our Church has had for the 2000 years of its history. But it’s not something that has really been very apparent in any of our existing courses. That’s the underlying premise of the new curriculum – how do faith and reason sit together?”

A team of academics and practitioners, including theologians and teachers, are currently working together on the new syllabus and Bishop Michael Kennedy of the Armidale Diocese is chair of the project.

Ms Starkey said research has shown that current approaches to RE are not assisting students to maintain their Catholic faith.

“The most recent studies out of the US are telling us that children as young as 10 are saying, ‘well, science tells us that the Big Bang is how everything was created, so how does God sit in that? God doesn’t sit in that so I no longer believe’.”

“We’re seeing evidence of that in Australia as well. Why is that, when the Church actually has the oldest scientific institution in the world – the Vatican Observatory? Why do they think faith and reason and science can’t sit together?

“We hope to show students there’s a whole body of work that tells us where God fits and how important the Church is in articulating that in our world today.”


New RE curriculum to be “unapologetically Catholic” (The Catholic Weekly)

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