A radical new Religious Education curriculum has been launched in the “School Room” at Mary MacKillop Place in North Sydney.
It’s designed to help Catholic students “think with the Church.”
Launching Studies in Catholic Thought for Year 11 and 12 students in Catholic schools across NSW, Bishop Michael Kennedy of Armidale said the new curriculum is a radical departure from current practice because it adopts a Catholic liberal arts approach.
He said the course appeals to both “the head and the heart,” and will “help to lift the profile of Catholic religious education” among students and teachers.
“It ensures that students simply do not examine the Catholic faith and way of life, as outsiders looking in, like scientists might examine something under a microscope,” Bishop Kennedy said.
“Instead, in this course, the students study the Catholic faith from within our religious tradition, by being immersed into the scriptures, theology, philosophy, history, texts, and the fine arts of our Catholic tradition, in order to come to a deeper understanding, not only of our Catholic faith, but of God, ourselves, the world and everything in it.”
Studies in Catholic Thought will be the first common Religious Education course offered to all senior students in Catholic schools across NSW.
Putting together the new syllabus had been a process of consultation and collaboration with teachers, principals, bishops and academics, Bishop Kennedy said.
“We want our young people to develop critical thinking and moral reasoning and be able to know, understand, celebrate and live out their Catholic faith.
“It’s no accident that when looking for a name for the new course we decided to call it Studies in Catholic Thought. We want our young people to think with the Church.”
He said it was highly significant that almost three years to the day since the bishops voted to put together the new curriculum, it was being launched during the Year of Youth, in the School Room at Mary MacKillop Place, “a very significant place for the history of Catholic education in Australia.”
Dr Bella D’Abrera, director of the Foundations of Western Civilisation Program at the Institute of Public Affairs, said the need for such a syllabus was “more urgent than ever.”
She said despite our society’s “unprecedented wealth and peace” the current era is one of “spiritual impoverishment.”
“Society has never been more divorced from God,” Dr D’Abrera said.
“Since the 1960’s, with the advent of Vatican II, Catholics have witnessed this secularism creeping into Catholic education, replacing authentic Catholic identity with bland conformity to a declining culture.”
She said the new curriculum would give students a “very strong sense of right and wrong” and teach them to reason and discover truth.
“A genuine commitment to truth that is revealed by God requires a strong Catholic foundation and adherence to the teachings of the Church,” Dr D’Abrera said.
Studies in Catholic Thought will be offered to all NSW senior students from 2019.
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