Exploring the spiritual aspect of the human condition
The St Hilda’s girls bring an eclectic array of perspectives about religion to the classroom; nevertheless, the vast majority of the students are open to the consideration of mainstream, contemporary Christian understandings about the nature of the human condition and life.
In recent times, the Religious Education teachers have incorporated a greater emphasis on facilitating student appreciation for the biblical texts. In Year 8, a unit of work entitled, Journey through the Bible, was the focus for attention in Term 2; this involved short samples of passages from different books on the basis of which the girls undertook ‘The Great Race’ in pairs as they completed tasks in an iPad graphic. In the same term, the Year 12 students undertook study of the New Testament letter of James so that they could consider ways in which the ancient teaching remains relevant today.
These new units of work complemented others with a biblical focus including: Gospel Parables (7), the Gospel of Luke (8), the Easter Story (9), Female Role Models in the Bible (9), Exodus (9) and the Letter to the Ephesians (11). Throughout these studies, students were encouraged to consider metaphorical as well as literal interpretations, the culture of the times, issues relating to language and the variety of voices in the biblical accounts.
Christian apologetics (defences of the faith), social justice, pain and suffering, identity and ethics were themes that were considered across the year levels. A greater emphasis was placed on the consideration of some of the other great enduring religions of the world, including specific units of work in Years 9 and 11. Students were encouraged to consider similarities and differences among religions within a non-judgmental, respectful framework of reference. In addition, students were encouraged to consider major Christian emphases of love, compassion, forgiveness, hope and grace.
Periodically, many of the girls enjoyed the experience of Christian meditation; this aspect of the program remained a subject of frequent student request, presumably, to escape the busy, noisy modern world for a brief period of time. A small group of Year 11 students shared the following insights in relation to Christian meditation: ‘It winds you down’; ‘It removes stress’; ‘I can have a conversation with God’; ‘You can say stuff and feel like he’s listening’; ‘It helps to create a harmonious room with a positive vibe’. Clearly, such times provide an opportunity to access the spiritual dimension.
While opportunities for discussion were often provided, the use of technology was prominent. Laptops and iPads were used as students accessed material placed on the on-line system of ‘Blackboard’, used the internet for research, completed class tasks and prepared presentations to the class. A group of Year 8 girls asked ‘hard questions’ of their Religious Education teacher which were placed on iTunesU along with the teacher responses under the heading: Hard Questions for a ‘God Botherer’. A short course in relation to looking up and interpreting biblical verses was placed on iTunesU as well. Carefully selected DVDs also were used as stimulus materials in the course.
I am grateful for the dedicated team of teachers with whom I had the pleasure of working. Father Andrew Schmidt, Trevor Sketcher and Chris Grehan displayed grace and poise in the Religious Education classroom. The group is mindful of the unique opportunity it is afforded to help the girls to appreciate the spiritual aspect of the human condition and to gently share the beauty of the Christian faith.
Study of Religion
The course is comprised of the following units:
How do students study Study of Religion?
This subject offers an increasing level of challenge to students. Through an inquiry process students are encouraged to identify and analyse moral and ethical issues, develop skills in moral decision-making, justify conclusions and formulate ethical positions.
Students will be involved in such learning experiences as; using a variety of media and research techniques to investigate issues, group discussions and debate, reporting, exploring case studies, working independently, site visits and dialogue with the wider community.
How are students assessed?
The criteria of Knowledge and Understanding, Evaluative Processes and Research and Communication are assessed through a variety of assessment instruments, including:
Students complete six assessment instruments each year.
Mr Richard Larsen