Study Materials for Religious Education

Section 09.   International perspective on religious education, Part C:  School religious education in Australia and New Zealand

This is the third of three sections that try to give some perspective on developments and practice of religious education internationally.  This section looks at the work of some RE scholars in Australia.
The first part gives an overview of the work of some Australian RE theorists and the second part has two work/assessment options,

A unit that extends educators' background in key issues for religious education that helps with the critical evaluation of contemporary theory and practice

As for all sections, view the introductory video. Then listen to the content lecture audio while attending to the main text file on this page. Arrange to have the audio file and the text page open together so you can work your way through both in an integrated fashion.

There is no Introductory video to this section. The combined video introduction to Sections 7, 8 and 9 was included in Section 7

Brief overview of content of this section

There was no need to give special attention to the Australian religious education context as this has been the presumed setting for most of the religious education questions covered in this section.

A series of articles by Australian and New Zealand religious education scholars are listed and linked into the section text, with some general comments that may help get an idea of what particular authors were especially concerned with in the writings about religious education.


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Explanatory and introductory notes

In many ways, New Zealand Catholic schools are very much like those in Australia. However, part of the state funding arrangement requires that they attend to what is called the "special character" of these church schools. So without using the word Catholic identity, the New Zealand Catholic educators would need to be able to spell out what they understood as the distinctive or special character of Catholic schools within the context of New Zealand education generally. In New Zealand, classroom religious education has its academic status enhanced by always being called Religious studies. The religion coordinator role is designated director of religious studies. This pattern has been in New Zealand Catholic schools for many years. There has not been the same recent proliferation of New religious roles as has occurred in Australian Catholic schools (E.g. Dean of Mission, Director of Evangelisation, Director of Catholic identity etc.)
The six New Zealand Catholic dioceses have always worked together cooperatively in the development of religious education curriculum. In 1986, in consultation with religion teachers from around the country, they held a series of seminars in 6 key cities and in one step this series was used to clarify and consolidate a subject oriented approach to classroom religious education.
And they devoted extensive resources to the development of student materials to back up and support their approach to religious education. They developed the series of texts across all year levels called Understanding faith. In addition to its use across NZ, the texts were so popular in Australia that quite a number of Australian Catholic schools across a number of dioceses used the New Zealand materials. Eventually, an Australian version of the New Zealand student materials were developed by a parish priest in Port Macquarie who was both entrepreneurial and aware of the great value of these materials – they were used in schools in different dioceses even though there were different diocesan guidelines mandated.

1. Gary Finlay, 1987, A 'Turangawaewae' for Young Catholics: A Case for Tradition in Religious Education, Catholic School Studies, 60, 2, 15-19.

2. Gary Finlay Article on: Need for Relevance in Religious Education;

3. Stories, Heroes and silence in RE: Need for wisdom in RE

Gary Finlay was for many years the Director of the Catholic National Centre for Religious Studies. The first article is a basic account of why there is a need for a study of traditions (and church history) in religious education. Check the clarity in the style of writing.

Finlay has written very clearly and precisely. He draws on a wide variety of literature and argues is particular cases coherently. The first article is perhaps one of the best articles around that looks into the case for having a prominent study of traditions and church history within religious education. The second article is one of the best around that looks into what it means to have a relevant religious education. People often use the word a lot, but seldom is it discussed and defined with clarity. In keeping with his writings about tradition in religious education, the third article looks at the importance of religious stories and heroes.

1. Kevin Wanden 2009. History of NZ Catholic secondary schools.

2. Wanden and Birch Secondary Students perceptions of the Mission of the Catholic church.

Kevin Wanden
Kevin Wanden Brother Kevin Wanden fms was for some years the director of the New Zealand National Catholic Centre for Religious Studies. His doctoral research, completed in 2010, interpreted the nature and purposes of Catholic school religious education from the perspective of secondary school teachers. The first item here is one chapter of his thesis which looked at the history of New Zealand Catholic secondary schools. The second article was an empirical study of student's views of the mission of the Catholic Church.



Explanatory and introductory notes

Most of the scholars and theorists listed here are from the Catholic religious education tradition. And most of the writings are about religious education in the Catholic sector. But some other areas of focus have also been included. The focus on state-based religion studies courses is evident in the material by Lovat on the phenomenological and typological models for religious education. Some material by Brian Hill refers to values education.

Gerard Rummery
Keynote address on RE at the 2001 National symposium on RE & Ministry

An interview with Gerard Rummery reflecting back on developments and issues in RE 2005

Gerard Rummery fsc

Br Gerard Rummery could be considered as the 'grandfather' of academic study of Catholic religious education in Australia. His first major writing was the book Catechesis and Religious Education in a pluralist society in 1975. For many years he was editor of Word in Life which later became the Journal of Religious Education. Fluent in many languages and through his international work with the De La Salle Brothers when on the General Council in Rome he was able to develop a very broad perspective on religious education across a number of countries. His international perspective was a valuable component of his many writings. In the first article here he reflects on where RE has 'travelled' over the years. Similarly, he reflected on issues and developments in an interview recorded in 2005.

Marcellin Flynn

A tribute to the work of Br Marcellin Flynn 1972-2002 by Tony McArthur

Br Marcellin Flynn
Br Marcellin Flynn fms RIP was best known as an empirical researcher who looked at senior students' views about Catholic schooling, in studies done between 1975 and 2000, resulting in a number of publications. He was more interested in the broader Catholic schooling than in Religious Education as such, But he taught in the Catholic University School of Religious Education (and in ACU's predecessor colleges) for many years.

1. Lovat, T. J. 1989, The Phenomenological Model of R.E. (Ch.5), The Typological Model of R.E. (Ch.6) from What is This Thing Called Religious Education? Summary, Critique and a New Proposal.

2. Islam as a religion of 'fair go' - implications for Australian RE

3. Interfaith RE and self knowledge

Terry Lovat
Terry Lovat , now retired from being pro-vice chancellor at the University of Newcastle, was early on influenced by the writings of Basil Moore and Norman Habel about typology (When religion goes to school , 1981). Lovat combined elements of typology with Groome's shared praxis to come up with what he regarded as a critical and informative approach to religious education. Readers might identify the problematic term he uses "en-faithing" to describe approaches to religious education that tried to focus on handing on the tradition.

One can ask: are there approaches that directly affect faith whereas other approaches do not? How would an observer tell the difference? Or is the difference only in the intentions of the teacher?

Lovat was interested in religion studies programs that were developed by state authorities. And he was interested in general religious education in public schools as well as in religious education in church -related schools.

1. Brian V. Hill, (2005). Values in free fall? RE and Values in Public Schools Paper presented at State school religious education conference, 2005 (Later published in Journal of Religious Education )

2. Example of early 1991 writing about values education in Aust

3. Values education in the national interest

Brian Hill
Brian Hill could be regarded as the grand philosopher of religious education and values education in Australia. He wrote from a philosophical background and has given attention to a wide range of topics in religious and moral education. For many years he was the editor of the Journal of Christian Education -- which recently has merged with an international journal of Christianity and Education. He was a principal consultant in the Australian governments values education program. He was the most prolific writer about values education in Australia. He is important for his work on the code of teaching ethics called "Committed impartiality.

The article 1 here gives perspective to some of the developments and issues in values education and religious education in Australia. In 2003, many of his ideas on religious education were published in the book Exploring religion in school.

1. Robert Crotty The impact of Biblical Studies on Religious Education in Aust

2. Kiley & Crotty on the translation of Biblical stories

3. Crotty & O'Donoghue on studying religious world views (world religions)

Robert Crotty
Robert Crotty is a scripture scholar with a special interest in the historical Jesus and Christology. As well, he and colleagues have written a number of very useful student texts on scripture and on the study of world religions.
He is one of the few scholars in this field who has taken a very strong interest in religious education. He spent most of his working career at the University of South Australia and its predecessor Colleges of Advanced Education.

1. Michael Buchanan Survey of writings about trends in Aust. Catholic school RE.

2. Place of faith in classroom religious education -- a review

Michael Buchanan
Michael Buchanan is a professor of Religious Education in Australian Catholic University. He did doctoral research on curriculum change in religious education related to the role of school leaders in religious education. His more recent interests have been in leadership in religious education and on Catholic schools. He edited the recent book on Global perspectives on Catholic schooling, with contributors from a number of different countries. For some years he was editor of the Religious Education Journal of Australia.
Graham English. Freedom to develop: revisiting some of the second Vatican Council's contribution to religious education. Published in Journal of Religious Education, 1999. Published with permission.

Graham English
Graham English worked at Sydney CEO and in the ACU School of Religious Education in Sydney. He also wrote curriculum materials for secondary schools. He is well known as a cartoonist. His work has appeared in a number of publications and is evident elsewhere in this unit's materials.

1. Maurice Ryan Shared Christian Praxis: A response to the Parramatta experience

2. An appraisal of the influence of the outcomes movement on religious education

3. Exclusivist and inclusive models of Catholic schooling

Maurice Ryan
Maurice Ryan was in the ACU School of religious education in the Brisbane branch. He has written extensively about the theory and practice of religious education at both primary and secondary levels. In addition, he has authored a number of student texts on a variety of topics for use in primary and secondary church-related schools. The first article here is about the Groome Shared Praxis approach to RE as used in the Parramatta diocese. The second is about the impact of the outcomes of movement on school religious education. He cautions against some of the problems that might be associated if there is too great an emphasis on measurable educational outcomes. He has set up his own publishing company Lumino Press to advance the publication of student materials and teacher books in religious education.

1. Richard Rymarz New evangelisation and Catholic schooling

2. Teaching scripture in a post-critical context

3. Teacher content knowledge and religious education

Richard Rymarz
Richard Rymarz has been long involved Religious education and Catholic schooling at university level in both Australia and in Canada. He is now Professor of Religious Education and Director of Research at the Australian Institute for Theological Studies (Broken Bay Institute). He has written prolifically and has always given special attention to the practical classroom implications of religious education theory. He completed a second doctoral research thesis on the new evangelisation and Catholic schooling.

1. Jan Grajczonek Belonging Being & Becoming: The Early Years learning framework for Aust: Challenges for early Years

2. Revisioning pedagogy for early years RE for children

3. Teaching and Learning in RE from a broader curriculum perspective (including place of play-based learning in RE)

Jan Grajczonek
Jan Grajczonek was in the Brisbane branch of the ACU School of religious education. Her work has been mainly in the area of early childhood religious education and children's spirituality. The first article here looks at the implications in the Australian Early Years' Learning Framework for religious education. The third article considers a place for play-based learning in education and in religious education, in the context of a broader discussion of teaching and learning.
Kath Engebretson Identity, masculinity and spirituality of teenage boys

Kath Engebretson
Kath Engebretson was in the Victorian branch of the ACU School of religious education. She has written about the religious education curriculum, about religion studies courses, inter-religious education as well as a book on the spirituality of boys.

1. Marian de Souza Spirituality in religious education in contemporary contexts

2. Article on 'inter-spiritual' education

Marian de Souza
Marian de Souza was in the Victorian branch of the ACU School of religious education. She has written extensively about the human/psychological dimension to spirituality, with a special emphasis on the theme of "connectedness": that is connection with self, with the world, with others and with the transcendent. She is also interested in the aesthetic and spiritual dimensions to the general curriculum. The articles here look at place of spirituality religious education. And an article on ‘inter-spiritual' education. Over the last decade, there has been an emphasis on ideas like “ inter -cultural” education and “ inter -religious” education and now this article recommends “ inter -spiritual” education. What does the word “inter” add to education?

1. Brendan Hyde 2010-Godly Play Nourishing Children's Spirituality in RE

2. Hyde B & Berryman J -Play And Authority In RE

Brendan Hyde
Brendan Hyde was in the Victorian branch of the ACU School of religious education. He has written extensively about the spirituality of young children and about the pedagogy of Godly play. The theme ‘search for meaning' has long been a prominent religious educational theme for adolescents and adults. Hyde explores what this might mean for young children. This is covered in his book Searching for meaning and connectedness . One of the articles here reflects on the use of Godly play with a three-year-old child. The other article in association with Jerome Berryman (the original developer of the Godly play pedagogy) is on play in religious education.

1. Marisa Crawford and Graham Rossiter. The development of personal identity in young people: Negotiating the cultural maze Ch 7

2, 2013.  Perspective on the use of the construct ‘Catholic identity' for Australian Catholic schooling: Part 1: and Part 2

3 Spirituality of young people: negotiating the perils of adolescence

Marisa Crawford
Marisa Crawford and Graham Rossiter have collaborated in professional development programs and in writing for teachers and students since 1981. Their most recent work is Reasons for living: Education and young people's search for meaning, identity and spirituality. Click for chapters 1-22

1 Laurie Woods St Paul -- interpreter of the Jesus tradition

2. A literary reading of the Book of Genesis

Laurie Woods
Laurie Woods is a Scripture scholar who has a special interest in relating recent scripture scholarship to the work of religion teachers. He was well known for his teaching at ACU for many years.
Dominique Jaaniste: A Lutheran response to issues with the nature and purpose of religious education
Dominique Jaaniste Dominique Jaaniste is a teacher, consultant and RE writer working in the Lutheran tradition in Australia
Michael Chambers The place of non-Catholic students in Australian Catholic schools

Michael Chambers
Michael Chambers is in ACU School of Education . His doctoral studies were on the place of non-Catholic students in Australian Catholic schools.