Welcome to the coloured glass classroom! We hope to provide you with lots of creative ideas and resource links to help you engage the young people in your religious and Christian education classes. This blog is sponsored by the Anglican Schools Commission of the Anglican Church Southern Queensland.

7 May 2015

R.E. gold in the Australian Curriculum.

Creative work is being done in many schools on exploring how aspects of the Australian Curriculum, such as the General Capabilities and Cross-Curriculum Priorities might be supported in and through Religious Education (RE). In Anglican Schools this may be a vital undertaking in order for more time to be given to the subject.

For Australian RE teachers exploring all aspects of the Australian Curriculum, including its different Learning Areas should be a regular activity. There is much within it that not only can be supported by RE but will also support RE itself. In fact there is gold to be found in the Australian Curriculum for those teaching RE. Yes! The Australian Curriculum can help Religious Educators!

Consider the Foundation Year Content Descriptions for EnglishThere is much here that might not only help RE teachers understand the English literacy level of their learners but also provides direction for exploring the Bible.

Here is an example:

Share feelings and thoughts about the events and characters in texts (ACELT1783)

When dealing with narrative in the Bible, this descriptor should be a regular activity. It will encourage students to engage with the text and explore their own thoughts and feelings about it. It concerns me that at times we are hesitant to let children respond to the Biblical text. However, if we don't then they will not learn to engage with it. It becomes like an ornament on the shelf that they are not allowed to play with but only look at.

The elaborations provided are very useful:
  • talking about stories and authors, choosing favourites, discussing how students feel about what happens in stories.
  • using art forms and beginning forms of writing to express personal responses to literature and film experiences.
  • talking about people, events and ideas in texts, enabling students to connect them to their own experiences and to express their own opinions about what is depicted
  • Each of these activities are things that can be done with the Biblical text.

 Here is another example:

Understand that texts can take many forms, can be very short (for example an exit sign) or quite long (for example an information book or a film) and that stories and informative texts have different purposes (ACELA1430)

This is a critical understanding that students need to develop about the Bible and its different parts. Actually many adult Christians struggle with applying this concept. We need to help students think about the purpose of the text. Is it telling a story, giving information, expressing feelings? Not all of the Bible is the same type of writing and students need to grapple with this.

Again the elaborations are very useful:
  • sharing experiences of different texts and discussing some differences
  • discussing the purpose of texts, for example ‘This text will tell a story’, ‘This text will give information’
  • repeating parts of texts, for example characteristic refrains, predicting cumulative storylines, reciting poetic and rhyming phrases

A few others Content Descriptions listed could also be applied easily to exploring Biblical texts.
  • Recognise that texts are created by authors who tell stories and share experiences that may be similar or different to students’ own experiences (ACELT1575)
  • Retell familiar literary texts through performance, use of illustrations and images (ACELT1580)
  • Identify some differences between imaginative and informative texts (ACELY1648)

It is easy to put Religious Education to the side and treat it differently to other subjects. To even leave our brains at the door when we teach it. However we must not do this. We must bring to Religious Education the same depth we would to other subjects and one way to do this is to draw on the Australian Curriculum and all it has within it to shape our practice. The same thing applies to the way we engage with the Bible. We must use the tools that students are learning to help them enter into it and explore it.


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