Details of Thesis

TitleParents, Teachers and Religious Education. A study in a Catholic secondary school in rural Victoria
Author Finn, Anthony Gerard
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2009
Abstract The research reported in this thesis investigated perceptions about the nature and purpose of religious education of parents and teachers in a study of one Catholic secondary school in regional Victoria, Australia. In the research project data were collected using questionnaires and interviews from parents and teachers of religious education associated with the particular secondary school. These data were analysed and interpreted against a spectrum of purposes for religious education that were drawn from the literature. The literature reviewed included documents relevant to religious education from the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and also from theorists in the field of religious education both from Australia and beyond. The theories about religious education generated by the literature review provided a framework within which to compare and contrast how the parents and the teachers understood religious education. While all of the religious education teachers took part in the research, the parents self-selected. This meant that those who responded were mostly Catholic from a school where there were 23% of families with no Catholic parent. A decision was made to focus this study on the new Catholic religious education guidelines, since this was seen to be essential because of the mandation by the bishop and Catholic Education Office of the Diocese of Ballarat. All parents were invited to respond, but mostly Catholic parent did. It was discovered that the parents and the teachers were in agreement in relation to most areas of religious education, especially in areas associated with values, morality, individual spirituality and what might be termed ‘religious literacy’. Parents and teachers were shown to have different attitudes towards religious education in the senior school. The data also highlighted the importance of the role of the teachers and school in providing religious education for families who have become distanced from traditional religious institutions. Many of the parents endorsed the school as the primary place for their children to receive information about religion, and chose to distance themselves from the religious education process in favour of allowing the ‘experts’ at the school to take on this role on behalf of the family. The thesis raised issues for the ways in which the school communicated with parents, both in terminology and technology. Overall, the findings affirmed the work of the teachers in religious education by parents who were ‘time poor’ and who wished to see the school take on the primary role of educating the children about religion, with expectations that the children would be fully exposed to the Catholic religious tradition in its teachings, ethics, liturgy and social justice practices.
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