A Catholic view of Learning and Teaching
Elliot, M, Stower, L.et al. (2013) Religious Education Curriculum, Archdiocese of Brisbane. Brisbane, Australia. Catholic Education Archdiocese of Brisbane. (p20-22)
The BCE Learning and Teaching Framework (2012) articulates some key messages that are foundational to understanding how the Religion Curriculum P-12 has been designed and is intended to be delivered in schools. At St Kevin's School we have intentionally developed a Religious Education Program on the foundation of a Catholic theology and philosophy of curriculum. Four core themes are central: Anthropology, Epistemology, Cosmology and the Catholic Christian Tradition.
Catholic View of Christian Anthropology
A foundational question for curriculum relates to beliefs about the human person. Anthropology explores such questions as, ‘Who are we?’ and ‘What is our destiny?’ Every facet of curriculum is a manifestation of certain assumptions about the human person (Queensland Catholic Education Commission, 2008). At St Kevin's we value a Catholic view of Christian anthropology which is centred on the person of Jesus. We recognise each person is created in the image of God and emphasise Jesus as teacher whose Spirit infuses our whole curriculum with a hope-filled vision of life. Our Religious Education Programme is characterised by inclusion, holistic and relational learning, and action in community.
Catholic Perspective on Epistemology
Epistemology is concerned with the act and nature of knowing. Epistemology explores such questions as, ‘How do we know?’, ‘Is all knowledge relative?’ and ‘Are there best ways of communicating knowledge?’ St Kevin's Catholic perspective on epistemology orients a curriculum towards:
rationality: “Catholic Christianity believes that the human mind can and should strive to understand the mysteries of life and the Divine Presence through rational reflection” (Queensland Catholic Education Commission, 2008, p.8).
holistic knowing: “A Catholic perspective on epistemology affirms that knowing is a holistic enterprise that embraces the intellect, emotions, imagination, experience and community and is not just an exercise of the mind or intellect” (Queensland Catholic Education Commission, 2008, p.9).
knowing and living: “A Catholic view of knowing is that practical scientific knowing cannot be separated from knowing that is concerned with ethics, religion and life” (Queensland Catholic Education Commission, 2008, p.9).
wisdom as the fruit of knowing: “A fourth feature of epistemology in a Catholic tradition is that all knowing should ultimately lead to wisdom” (Queensland Catholic Education Commission, 2008, p.9).
life-long and life-wide learning: The Catholic tradition views the acquisition of knowledge as a lifelong and lifewide enterprise. Reflective self-directed learning and teaching provides sabbath spaces for teachers and students to interiorise knowledge (Queensland Catholic Education Commission, 2008).
Catholic Understanding of Cosmology
Cosmology relates to how we understand our place in the universe and the choices we make to live within the integrity of creation. Through the elements of stewardship and sacramentality, we at St Kevin's are called to respond to questions like: ‘What is our place in the universe?’ ‘ How do we live within the integrity of creation?’
stewardship: A Catholic view of stewardship is opposed to anthropocentrism whereby humans assume mastery of creation, doing what they like with the earth. Humans are co-creators with God and, as stewards, are charged with cultivating and caring for creation.
sacramentality: Catholic Christians are sacramental people who experience God’s presence in their everyday world. In a faith vision of life, God is encountered in community, in the Church and its sacramental life, through nature, human activity and the world at large. The principle of sacramentality encourages staff, students and parents to reject any notion of dualism in the curriculum. Dualism in the curriculum implies that there is a twofold division in learning areas, the so-called ‘secular’ learning areas and ‘religious’ learning areas (Queensland Catholic Education Commission, 2008).
Catholic Christian Story and Tradition: Of the ninety times Jesus is addressed directly in the Gospels, sixty times he was called ‘Teacher’. This was how the disciples referred to him. Jesus himself used the term when he said, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am” (John 13:13). From the very beginning of Christianity, the Christian community has been engaged in teaching. The person of the teacher is integral to the project of teaching, for as Paul VI reminds us: Modern [people] listen more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if [they] do listen to teachers it is because they are witnesses (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 1975, n.41).
This transformative process of learning and teaching is captured in the Vision of Brisbane Catholic Education to Teach, Challenge and Transform and in our St Kevin's School Vision Statement. This Vision is realised through everyday witness; learning and teaching that challenges and transforms the culture and the world in which we live.
Ongoing spiritual formation for religious educators is as important as professional and theological learning. A person-centred understanding of spiritual formation begins with honouring and exploring the personal narrative of each individual’s experience of My Story through an approach that engages the head, the heart and the hands (experience, knowledge, practice and application). The individual experience of My Story is nested within the communal experience and narrative of Our Story, which in turn is encompassed by the meta-narrative of the incarnate and transcendent expression of God in The Story. Each of these spheres of experience are encountered through the head, heart, hands approach that keeps drawing the individual back to their ever-changing appreciation of My Story.
Through this dynamic interaction between My Story, Our Story and The Story, individuals and communities at St Kevin's encounter and develop a capacity to engage with a new way of being and seeing, a new language and a living theology. This understanding of spiritual formation is at the heart of the Brisbane Catholic Education and St Kevin's School Geebung Spiritual Formation Framework.