How do we keep ‘Catholic’ in Catholic Schools?


ACARA News Story
‘Catholic Curriculum’ co-authors Jim and Therese D’Orsa.

Designing the capabilities which today’s kindergarten students will need to engage a rapidly changing world is the focus of The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA), the body charged by the states and Commonwealth to create Australia’s first national school curriculum.

ACARA’s aim is to build an educational framework whereby school leavers may respond creatively to changing economic and social circumstances, not as victims of change, but as its shapers.

In a parallel way, Catholic Curriculum - A Mission to the Heart of Young People by Jim and Therese D’Orsa advocates a Catholic worldview across the entire school curriculum, K-12, the more so that Catholic beliefs and values may be received by students to own and articulate in a world that is challenging in its moral ambivalence and expediency.

To ignore secular culture is to not be faithful to Christian mission, write the D’Orsas.

“The power of culture is so strong that the assumptions contained within it about faith will relegate faith to the personal and private sphere whenever the great human issues and problems are in the spotlight. Catholic education must provide students with the capacity to bring the perspectives of faith and culture together in dealing with human experience.”

The new book is a contribution to the conversation about how the worldview of young people is appropriately formed by Catholic school educators in collaboration with young people themselves. Its aim is to help them think positively about the formative potential of all learning areas and also about the serious unintended consequences of not doing so.

A “future-oriented” curriculum centred on “a deep, intelligent and meaningful relationship” with Jesus is “the axis on which all else turns”, write the authors. From this relationship springs “the capability and drive to develop the skills and competencies to make the Kingdom of God, which was central to Jesus’ life and mission, present in the complex world of family, society, culture and Church.”

Catholic Curriculum – A Mission the Heart of Young People is Jim and Therese D’Orsa’s second collaboration in their Mission and Education series. The new book is the first in the series to appear under the Vaughan Publishing imprint, a joint venture of The Broken Bay Institute and Garratt Publishing.

It arrives at a junction in the life of the Church in Australia, which sees many parishes shrinking in numbers, even as enrolments of students attending Catholic schools continues to swell, including many who are non-Christian.

In this context the publication of Catholic Curriculum is timely, and its contribution to Catholic identity into this century both far-reaching and hope-filled.

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