Last year the Parramatta Diocese, inspired by Bishop Vincent, his Coat of Arms and motto Duc in Altum, went out into the deep.
The team, teachers and staff from Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta began a journey to rewrite the Religious Education curriculum from a Jesus Kingdom perspective, from the bottom up.
Taking the 3000 responses from students, the team used student survey responses to create learning cycles that answered students’ wonderings.
St Pauls College Greystanes, NSW, students were challenged by new learning cycle ‘Let It Reign’ to think differently about the Reign of God.
Using an inquiry pedagogy, students were just given the title of the learning cycle ‘Let It Reign’ and asked for their thoughts on where that cycle would take them.
After the initial shock of such a question, responses came flying, including that we had spelt rain incorrectly, (this student some 10 weeks later would produce a response far beyond anything he had submitted prior). After a robust discussion the students identified that the learning cycle would be directed by their wonderings and questions around Kingdoms, manifestations, the attractions of the modern world and Jesus’ teaching around the Reign of God.
Such an inquiry would open the door for our real-world inspiration, Fr Joseph Lam said.
Fr Joseph was new to the parish and had an amazing story to share. An investment banker in his previous life, Fr Joe, as he is affectionately known was interviewed for another important element of the inquiry pedagogy used by St Paul’s, the Entry Event.
Know and Need to Know
Using Fr Joe’s story, students created their ‘Know and Need to Know’ list, which again gave students control over the direction the learning cycle would take.
Having greater control and with the extension of the delivery time to the entire term students embraced the teaching and learning around the Kingdom of God and their personal challenge to ‘Let It Reign’.
Developer of the new learning cycle and Religious Education Coordinator of St Paul’s College Margurite O’Connor has been personally inspired by the quality of questions from students and the depth of learning displayed in their written work.
Reflection on written work
Fr Joe challenged the students – ‘What are you waiting for? Go out and make a difference wherever you are: Don’t waste the gifts that you have received from God! If you want to be great, follow Christ and build up His Kingdom.” Let It Reign
Students responded with a written reflection of their learning. They were asked to reflect on, and record, how this knowledge of the understanding of the Reign of God had challenged them to live authentically.