"Core Curriculum as Rubbery as ‘Core Promises’?" a Commentary by Cathy Byrne

February 15, 2007

Author: Cathy Byrne

Source: On Line Opinion


With both parties bidding for the Christian vote, and Muslims stepping up to the New South Wales political plate, it will be interesting to see how Religion Education will be included - or not.

Will Australia follow the over-simplified US debates where “our” religion is better - or of positioning religion as a choice between science and God? Or will the study of the world’s religions as cultural, social and philosophical forces be seen as way to enrich our children’s global perspectives?

Many Australians suffer under pre-conceptions of non-Christian religions. And yet, levels of broad-based, comparative religion education in Australian schools compare poorly to those in the United Kingdom and many other western nations.

Non-denominational studies have been implemented in only a handful of state schools, and universities are cutting religion courses. Last year’s HSC religion curriculum had the comparative elements removed. Why? Will the Howard view on the history curriculum carry over into religion, with some parts edited out as “non-core”?

Australia can protect its diverse and cohesive society through knowledge about the “other”. Religion is not the preserve of the “right”, nor righteousness the preserve of Christianity. Rather, education about religions (the differences and similarities) should be the right of all.