Religion Should Be Taught Secular In Our Schools
In anticipation of the findings of the controversial Review Secular of the National Curriculum, religion in schools is being discuss once again. This is a difficult topic both locally and internationally. Is it possible and appropriate to teach religion in a secular setting?
Gary Bouma, Conversation author, recently spoke out about the challenges faced by some groups as they try to adapt to the fact that Australia is becoming both a secular and religiously diverse society.
What Does Secular Mean?
Different interpretations of the term secular, which refers to the separation of state and church, are possible. These interpretations can influence the views of people about religion’s place in society and schools.
Hard secularism demands complete separation and the elimination of religion from public life, including schools. Softer secularism does not favour one religion over another and advocates for respecting religious diversity, both religious and non-religious. Hard secularists believe that religious instruction and education about different religions should not permit in government schools.
Australia seems to have moved away from this hardline position in the current debate. Among the many participants in the current debate are some prominent secularists. Australia may now be ready to allow an inclusive and critical study on religions and ethics as part of its national curriculum.
Teaching Religion Secular
This idea is not new. This type of broad-based study has been offer by England, Sweden, Denmark, and Denmark for many decades. Canada and Norway have recently recognized the benefits of this approach, and despite legal challenges, they now support compulsory academic study of different religions and beliefs for all ages.
Recent REDCo Project: Religion in Education. The recent REDCo Project, Religion in Education: A Contribution to Dialogue? Or a Factor of Conflict in Transforming Societies of European Countries discovered that students from different backgrounds want to learn more about religion and how it can contribute to peaceful coexistence.
The Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe also published the Toledo Guiding Principles on Teaching Religions and Beliefs in Public Schools. This document offers guidance on how to develop curricula and procedures to ensure fair implementation. The Council of Europe also offers recommendations regarding religious and nonreligious education. These recommendations aim to foster tolerance and a culture of living together.
Secular schools can still teach critical education about religions, provided that no one viewpoint is deemed superior or correct. Students will be exposed to a variety of worldviews, beliefs and practices, as well as the roles that religious and not-religious ideas can play in their lives and society. It is not the goal to in still belief but to understand.
Dialogue And Peace-Building
Critical education about religion looks at religion’s role in conflict, dialogue and peace-building. This approach is proven to foster positive attitudes towards social inclusion and intercultural awareness. These skills are vital for young Australians to be able to live and work in a globalized world.
The Australian Curriculum’s founding document, the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians), has given prominence to “The need for nurturing an appreciation of, and respect for, social, cultural, and religious diversity.
The Melbourne Declaration emphasizes the importance of schools promoting the intellectual and physical, social and emotional well-being of young Australians as well as the need for students to understand the spiritual, moral, and aesthetic dimensions of living.
Australian Curriculum Secular
Under review is the current Australian Curriculum. It offers some opportunities for studying diverse religions, ethics, and spirituality. There are limit resources, competing priorities for assessment and teacher training in these areas.
Australia can draw on the long-standing, international examples as well as new research. Australia has the opportunity to learn from international best practices and policies and to create unique curricula and resources for teacher education in a specific subject area.
It is important to recognize the significant contribution that Christianity has made to Australian life. However, it should be taught in conjunction with the importance of Indigenous culture, spirituality, and the many religions and spiritual traditions which have arrived in Australia recently.
Local contexts are affect by international crises and events. Globally, religion and criticisms of religion are common. Our children need to be able to read and write in both religious and interreligious languages. These skills can only acquired through a high-quality, critical, and secular education.