Religious Education: the learning area at the heart of the Catholic school

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Home > Media > News > Religious Education: the learning area at the heart of the Catholic school
Religious Education: the learning area at the heart of the Catholic school

By Martin Tobin, Director of Catholic Identity & Evangelisation, Catholic Education Tasmania

More than 60 experienced Religious Educators from Catholic Education Tasmania schools gathered in Launceston at the commencement of the new school term for the second state-wide Colloquium for experienced teachers of Religious Education. Drawing from the Framing Paper for Religious Education in Catholic Schools recently published by the National Catholic Education Commission, the professional learning opportunity enabled teachers to explore the theme ‘Religious Education – the learning area at the heart of the Catholic school’.

The keynote address was provided by Laura Avery, Director of Identity for Catholic Education Northern Territory, during which she communicated a clear overview of the centrality and characteristics of the learning and teaching of Religious Education of the Catholic school, as articulated in the General Directory for Catechesis, and emphasised in the Archbishop’s Charter for Catholic Schools.

The General Directory for Catechesis, paragraph 73, reads:

“It is necessary, therefore, that religious instruction in schools appear as a scholastic discipline with the same systematic demands and the same rigour as other disciplines. It must present the Christian message and the Christian event with the same seriousness and the same depth with which other disciplines present their knowledge. It should not be an accessory alongside of these disciplines, but rather it should engage in a necessary inter-disciplinary dialogue. This dialogue should take place above all at that level at which every discipline forms the personality of students …”

Ms Avery also communicated the vision for high-quality Religious Education, the critical role of the living witness of the Religious Education teacher, and its complementarity with the Catholic life of the school, including the Eucharist, the sacraments, prayer and other faith formation activities. Throughout her engaging presentation, she highlighted that the Catholic Education Northern Territory faces the challenge of recruiting suitably qualified and active Catholic teachers for Religious Education. Although significant, she emphasised that the challenge presented a great opportunity for the systematic and ongoing formation of teachers of Religious Education in Catholic teaching, belief and practice, and effective pedagogy, a salient message for our work in the area of the formation for mission of teachers in Catholic schools in Tasmania.

Facilitated by members of the Catholic Identity and Evangelisation team, and contributing teachers from the early to secondary years of schooling, the participants engaged in a range of practical workshops designed to enhance their understanding of the content of the Religious Education curriculum and their skills for teaching Religious Education.