Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Catholic School Religious Education in a Secular, De-traditionalised Culture: The Formula that is Best for Both the Religious and Non-religious Students

Version 1 : Received: 4 July 2021 / Approved: 7 July 2021 / Online: 7 July 2021 (10:37:19 CEST)

How to cite: Rossiter, G. Catholic School Religious Education in a Secular, De-traditionalised Culture: The Formula that is Best for Both the Religious and Non-religious Students. Preprints 2021, 2021070175 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202107.0175.v1). Rossiter, G. Catholic School Religious Education in a Secular, De-traditionalised Culture: The Formula that is Best for Both the Religious and Non-religious Students. Preprints 2021, 2021070175 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202107.0175.v1).

Abstract

Philip Phenix’s (1964) book Realms of meaning started the ever growing movement concerned with how school education might help young people in their search for meaning in times of rapid social change. Today, in globalised, digital, secularised, de-traditionalised culture, the importance and urgency of this role have never been greater. Cultural change has accelerated exponentially, and for many – including students in religious/Catholic schools – traditional religious sources of meaning are no longer prominent or plausible reference points. Catholic schools, whether independent or semi-state institutions because of government funding, can make a valuable contribution young people’s spiritual/moral education, no matter what their level of religious affiliation or practice. This article argues that such a contribution requires change to the discourse or narrative of Catholic school Religious Education, with corresponding adjustments to content and pedagogy. Its present trajectory, which is excessively concerned with promoting a Catholic identity in students, needs to be modified. Both the religious and non-religious students, especially in the senior classes, would derive greater spiritual and religious benefit from the inclusion of more life-relevant and issue-related content, together with a critical, research-oriented pedagogy. Such an approach proposes that the Catholic Church’s schools should offer unconditionally a meaningful spiritual/moral education that is relevant to all students, rather than a traditional one which seemed to presume that all students are, or should be practising Catholics. This does not minimise attention to the Catholic tradition, but it allows for a study of how people negotiate the task of constructing meaning and values in a complex culture. The article also looks at the ‘headwinds’ that hinder the implementation of this approach. The article is focused specifically on the Australian context where Catholic schools are semi-state institutions because they are funded by both state and federal governments. The issues are still likely to be pertinent to Catholic education in other countries, while taking into account significant contextual differences.

Subject Areas

Catholic education; Catholic schools; Religious Education; de-traditionalised culture

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