Introducing the New Draft Curriculum (Religious Education) for our Catholic schools.
In 2014, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP) embarked upon the challenging task of writing a new Religious Education Curriculum (RE). The primary task in responding to “the signs of the times,” as Vatican II teaches, was developing a synodal process of dialogue and participation. Over a number of years, countless stakeholders were engaged: students, clergy, parents, RE teachers, theologians and school principals. All involved, offered good advice and strong opinion.
Engaging all of our CEDP dialogue partners was extremely rewarding. Participants explained that an RE curriculum is ultimately for the students and their families, and like all objectives of Catholic education, the purpose is to bring about the flourishing of our young people.
Of central importance in the process of dialogue and participation over the past few years was the voice and questions of our students. The ‘developers’ were continuously conscious of Pope Francis’ advice, not to answer questions that our young people are no longer asking. The authors of the Draft New Curriculum aspired in every one of the newly established 55 learning cycles (pre-school to Year 12) to be relevant and inspiring to our students. Indeed, each learning cycle is based upon a ‘wondering’ question from our young people, going to the heart of our Catholic tradition.
The Draft New Curriculum launched on Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2020, will now be engaged in a year of discernment by stakeholders. Stages Two, Three, and Five will also undergo pilot studies in our schools in anticipation of a launch in Term Two, 2021. The roll out of the curriculum will be accompanied by a three-year implementation plan, including resources, teacher professional learning and formation.
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Conv, Bishop of Parramatta, attending the clergy familiarisation day on 19 February explained that, “the essence of the new curriculum speaks of the hope that is within, with a focus upon educating the head, heart and hands. It articulates the radical teachings of Jesus Christ. With Pope Francis, we strive in CEDP to ensure that every young person experiences a joyful, blessed, transformational and transcendent education.
“I hope the new curriculum, still to be named, awakens in young people the desire to make meaning for themselves and become co-creators of their own destinies of the world,” he said.
Endorsing the new curriculum, Mr Greg Whitby (Executive Director, CEDP), recalled the words of Bishop Vincent that, “ours are not schools that provide education for Catholics only but Catholic education for all.”
The Executive Director moved on to explain that CEDP is committed to a transformational model of education that puts the personal learning growth of young people at the centre and is a “dynamic contemporary approach to learning and teaching”.
Mr Whitby went on to say, “Catholic education is understood as a gateway to human flourishing, one that liberates each person to live life to the full, as Jesus said, ‘I have come that you may have life and have it to the full.’”
Over the coming years Catholic Outlook will feature regular articles on the roll out of the new curriculum, continuing in the next edition with a progress report and an explanation of the rationale and dispositions behind the curriculum.
Professor Anthony Maher is the Consultant Theologian for Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta.