PLANNING FOR RELIGIOUS EDUCATION CURRICULUM FRAMEWORK FOR SENIOR CYCLE
This optional framework for senior cycle religious education offers teachers who are not preparing students for the Leaving Certificate examination in religious education a structure within which to plan a programme of religious education for senior cycle.
There is a strong relationship between this framework and the syllabuses for Junior and Leaving Certificate religious education. Such a relationship should make for easier management of the optional examination subject in the senior cycle timetable. It also allows for a follow-through for those students who have taken the Junior Certificate course but have not chosen to take the Leaving Certificate course.
Because of this relationship, some sections are common to both the Leaving Certificate syllabus and the senior cycle curriculum. However, this framework offers considerably less detailed specification than the Leaving Certificate course. It is shorter, and offers more choice and scope for creativity for teachers and schools.
It is designed as a two-year framework, but can be extended to cover a three-year senior cycle if transition year is to be included.
Each section is presented in two parts. The first part sets out the topics to be covered in the section and the expected learning outcomes. The second part offers a range of possible explorations of each theme. It is intended that students would complete at least one of these explorations, but a teacher/school may decide to offer opportunities for students to pursue all explorations of a particular section.
The explorations have been carefully designed to offer opportunities and support for a variety of learner styles and methodologies including:
- group work
- project work
- self-directed learning
- visits and speakers
- cross-curricular linkages
- the use of ICT, particularly the use of the internet.
This framework has been designed with particular sensitivity to the variety of contexts in which it may be used - religious, social, school ethos, etc. In exposing students to a broad range of religious issues, religious traditions and ways of understanding the human search for meaning, the framework can help contribute to the spiritual and moral development of students from all faiths and none. It can also help develop a healthy respect for the beliefs of others and an openness to dialogue in search of mutual understanding.
The use of exploration options at the end of each section will help schools to use the framework in a flexible manner and tailor it to suit both the particular ethos of a school and to the particular interests of students.
A curriculum framework for senior cycle religious education: an overview
The framework is presented in eight parts and it is recommended that students study at least two sections each year. The selection and sequencing of the sections can be varied to suit teacher and student interests. However, it might be useful to use Section A as an introduction to the whole programme of work.
Summary of contents
Section A - The Search for meaning
Section B - Christianity
Section C - Religious faiths in Ireland today
Section D - Morality in action
Section E - God-talk
Section F - A living faith - doing justice
Section G - Celebrating faith
Section H - Story
The assessment of religious education at senior cycle
Assessment is an integral part of the teaching and learning process. It provides students with feedback on the progress of their own learning. It provides the teachers with information that will inform the planning and design of the next phase of learning. It provides parents with information on their child's progress at school. The first of these functions is particularly important. There is increasing evidence to suggest that the quality of the feedback presented to students may be a key factor in motivation and engagement. At senior cycle level, students can participate meaningfully in self-assessment and can be made aware of their own strengths and weaknesses as learners.
The framework for religious education for senior cycle has been designed to support both summative and formative forms of assessment. The outcomes can be used to generate written tests which teachers may wish to offer to students from time to time, especially at those times when similar assessments are provided for other subjects at senior cycle. The outcomes can also be used as a guide for the setting and assessment of homework.
The explorations in each section have been designed to give particular support for portfolio assessment which can be both formative and summative and which can provide, not only a rich source of information on the students progress in religious education, but a tangible record of achievement over the two or three years of senior cycle. Schools, or consortia of schools, may wish to provide a proforma religious education portfolio, which would add to the status of the portfolio itself and the process by which it was compiled.
The search for meaning
- To explore the human need to question and to identify the great questions.
- To explore some of the ancient and contemporary answers to the great questions.
- To identify the pattern of religious faith in response(s) to the great questions.
- To examine the place of religious faith in contemporary society.
- Contemporary expressions of the search for meaning.
- The great questions concerning the goal and purpose of life, the meaning of good and evil and the experience of suffering.
- Avoiding the search - the experience of indifference.
- Give some examples of the search for meaning in contemporary culture.
- Describe the great questions and reflect on students' own engagement with these.
- Explain and give examples of indifference to the search for meaning.
- Give examples of ways of escaping the search for meaning.
- Read the testimony of someone's search for meaning or invite someone to tell their story firsthand.
- Different kinds of symbols.
- The importance of the symbolic in the secular and in the sacred world.
- The power of the symbolic.
- New symbols for a new age.
- Describe different types of symbols.
- Give examples of how symbols are used in religious and in the secular world.
- Show the power of the symbolic to motivate, influence or inspire.
- Identify new symbols and any relationship they might have to more ancient symbols.
A Myth-making - investigate human beings as myth-makers past and present.
B Cosmologies - the stories of the universe. Explore two modern cosmologies - e.g. big bang and the creationist cosmology.
C Encountering symbols - visit places (both religious and secular) where symbols are important.
Religious faith - a response to life's search for meaning
- The meaning of suffering and evil as understood by a religious perspective.
- Examples of people whose lives are influenced by their faith.
- Spirituality - one's way of life.
- Contemporary expressions of a new spirituality.
- The role of religious faith in Ireland today.
- Present a summary of perspectives on suffering and evil from two religious perspectives.
- Show the power of religious faith in the life of a particular person or group of people.
- Describe some features of contemporary spirituality.
- Give examples of how religion continues to impact on the lives of people in Ireland.
A Why do good people suffer? Investigate different answers to this question through literature. (For example, Elie Wiesel, Night)
B People of faith - people of hope. Investigate persons or organisations motivated by faith and hope.
C Survey patterns of belief amongst young people and compare with national trends.
- To explore the historical context into which Jesus was born.
- To develop an understanding of the message and vision of Jesus in the context of his time.
- To examine the early Christian movement - its identity and vision.
- To investigate contemporary and historical attempts to return to the original vision.
Jesus - his life and times
- The political, social and religious systems in Palestine at the time of Jesus.
- Historical evidence for Jesus.
- Different expectations of the Messiah at the time of Jesus.
- Jewish understanding of the Kingdom of God.
- Jesus' vision of the Kingdom of God.
- Jesus' message in conflict with the establishment.
- Describe the political, social and religious systems in Palestine at the time of Jesus.
- Give two historical sources for evidence of Jesus.
- Explain different expectations of the Messiah at the time of Jesus - Priestly, Davidic, and Prophetic.
- Describe the Jewish understanding of the Kingdom of God at the time of Jesus.
- Outline the characteristics of the Kingdom as preached by Jesus.
- Discuss why Jesus was seen as a threat to the establishment.
- Explain why Jesus was put on trial.
A Jesus a man of his time and place - an exploration of the Jewish context into which Jesus was born.
B An exploration of Palestine then and now.
C Exploration of the theme of 'waiting' (in music, film and student's own lives).
D The trial.
Re-enact the trial of Jesus.
Investigate different concepts of justice and law today.
Research and discuss cases of miscarriage of justice in contemporary times.
The early Christian movement
- The death and resurrection of Jesus - a challenge to his followers.
- The first Christian communities as seen through the writings of Paul.
- Belief, behaviour and lifestyle of the early Christian communities.
- Tensions within the community and with the wider world.
- How did the community move from Palestine to Rome - key moments along the way.
- Archaeological evidence of the first Christian communities.
- Outline the response of Jesus' followers to his suffering and death.
- Explain the impact of the resurrection on the disciples.
- Give an account of the beliefs, behaviour and lifestyle of the early Christian communities, using Paul's writings.
- Outline some sources of tension within the Christian community (e.g. inclusion of non-circumcised) and outside.
- Give an account of key moments in the spread of Christianity from Palestine to Rome.
- Give two examples of archaeological evidence of the first Christian communities.
A Investigate non-biblical sources of Jesus' death.
B Research different religious understandings of resurrection and the after-life.
C Explore the dynamics of Church-State relations - then and now.
D Re-enact a moment of conflict within the early Christian community. Discuss it from different perspectives.
Returning to origins
- Returning to origins as a pattern in religious and secular institutions.
- The purpose and effect of rediscovering the founding vision.
- Returning to origins as a pattern in Christianity.
- Provide examples of the contemporary trend to return to origins.
- Explain the purpose of return and its effect.
- Discuss at least two attempts at restoring the original vision of Christianity - e.g. Monastic movement of the 12th century, Luther, the Evangelical Movement in early 19th century Protestantism, the Second Vatican Council, Liberation Theology.
A Explore in some detail one example of attempting to return to origins in Christianity.
B Prepare a debate in class on the topic 'Christianity has lost its way and needs to go back to its original vision'.
C Interview an older person about the changes they have seen during their lives in a particular religious tradition.
Religious faiths in Ireland today
- To encourage respect and appreciation for the richness of religious traditions in Ireland today.
- To explore at least two major living religious traditions and to compare and contrast elements of these.
- To examine the emergence of new religious movements in Ireland today.
Religion - a rich tapestry of beliefs
- Religious traditions in Ireland.
- Religious trends in Ireland.
- Living with diversity - opportunity or threat?
- Interfaith dialogue.
- Research the number of different religious traditions in Ireland today and their origins.
- Describe major religious trends in Ireland today.
- Define what is meant by interfaith dialogue and discuss the nature and purpose of such dialogue.
A Debate the topic - 'Religious diversity in Ireland will strengthen the faith of all'.
B Survey your local area to find out what religious traditions are in evidence.
C Use the internet to research the current state of interfaith dialogue. (See resource list for web addresses.)
A closer look at two major living traditions
Select two of the following - Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and explore:
- its origins, founder and location
- its vision of salvation/liberation
- its image of the human person
- the way 'Community' is organised by each tradition
- the role of ritual and celebration in each tradition
- the place of women and men within each tradition.
- Use the internet to research the origins, founder and location of two major world religions.
- Compare and contrast the vision of salvation/liberation proposed by each tradition.
- Describe the understanding of the "human person" as presented by each tradition.
- Give an account of how the community is organised at local and global levels.
- Describe how the tradition celebrates key moments in life or seasons.
- Present a comparison of the role of men and women in two world religions.
A Invite a speaker to talk about his/her experience of living the faith.
B Organise a class visit to a place of worship in consultation with the relevant religious leader.
C Organise a web search to find out more about the major world religions. (See resource list for web addresses.)
New religious movements
- What is a cult?
- What is a sect?
- The relationship between traditional religions and new religious movements.
- A study of one new religious movement including its foundation, major beliefs and lifestyle of members.
- Define 'cult' and give examples.
- Define 'sect' and give examples.
- Discuss why definitions are often contested.
- Research one new religious movement that is active in Ireland today.
A Organise a debate on the topic 'One person's cult is another's religion. All religions begin life as cults or sects'.
B New religious movements - threat or opportunity?
C Discuss the characteristics of new religious movements that appeal to young people. Discuss how other faiths can learn from this.
Morality in action
- To understand the stages of moral development.
- To introduce students to a process for moral decision-making and consider the implication of these for personal decision-making.
- To understand the elements and context of moral decisions.
- To critically reflect on a range of moral issues from a religious perspective.
- Why be moral?
- Historical perspectives on morality.
- Stages of moral development.
- Influences on moral principles: peers, family, media, culture, religion, etc.
- Conscience - how is it developed? What is an informed conscience? The role of religion in informing conscience?
- Personal and structural sin.
- Personal reflection on key influences on personal moral principles & decisions.
- Give examples which show morality as a natural phenomenon.
- Give examples and explain how our understanding of moral issues is evolving through history, e.g. slavery, child labour, death penalty.
- List the stages of moral development as outlined by one theorist.
- Define conscience and explain its role in decision-making.
- Define personal and structural sin.
A Use newspaper and other media to trace a current moral debate.
B Use newspaper and other media to find current examples of personal and structural sin. Also find examples of human beings acting in a way that is agreed to be 'good' or 'moral'.
C Trace the development of understanding on one moral issue over time, e.g. slavery, corporal punishment, child labour.
Morality and religious belief
- Understand the difference between the religious and moral person.
- Jesus ethical vision of 'right relationship'.
- The influence of Jesus Jewish background on his moral vision - e.g. the golden rule.
- The Christian understanding of sin and reconciliation.
- The ethical vision of another faith tradition.
- State similarities and differences between a religious and a moral person.
- Give an account of Jesus' understanding of 'right relationship'.
- Discuss with examples how Jesus Jewish background influenced his moral vision.
- Discuss with examples how sin has personal, social and structural implications.
- Summarise the ethical vision of one major religion other than Christianity.
A Compare the golden rule as it appears in different religious traditions.
B Explore how care for the earth is incorporated into the moral vision of one major religion.
- The process of moral decisionmaking.
- Examples of moral decision-making in action.
- The role of religion in moral decision-making.
- Suggest a process for mature moral decision-making in a moral dilemma.
- Give examples of above taking two of the following:
- political or economic dilemma
- interpersonal or sexual dilemma
- an issue of medical and scientific ethics
- Explain the role of a religio us perspective in moral decisionmaking.
A In small groups discuss how a moral decision-making process might be used in solving a number of different moral dilemmas.
B View a contemporary film that addresses the theme of moral decision-making and discuss the different perspectives depicted in the film and what influenced them.
C Keep a journal to identify own values and influences on personal decision-making.
- To examine present image of God and compare to childhood image.
- To examine images of God in art/music/literature and contemporary culture.
- To examine images of God in two major religions.
- To explore images of God in scripture/sacred texts.
My image of God
- My image of God.
- Images of God in art/music/literature and contemporary culture.
- 'God of the gaps'.
- Critically reflect on own image of God.
- Give examples of various images of God in art/music/literature and contemporary culture.
- Be able to offer a critique of the 'God of the gaps'.
A Explore images of God in art, music or literature.
B Explore different accounts of the origins of the universe from science and religion.
C Compare childhood images of God with adolescent images.
Images of God in sacred text
- Gendered images of God in sacred texts.
- The relationship between images of God in sacred texts and the place of men and women in their traditions and worship.
- Research various images of God in sacred text.
- Discuss the possible relationship between gendered images of God and the role of women and men in the tradition and worship.
A Explore a contemporary issue of justice and how different images of God might influence one's understanding of that issue.
B Trace the role and contribution of women in one Church tradition.
C Organise a debate on the topic 'When God is male then the male is God'.
God 'in the bits'n pieces of the everyday.'
- Implications of images of God for life.
- Signs and rituals- special moments of God's presence.
- Non-Christian rituals.
- Discuss the relationship between one's image of God and one's view of life and relationships with others.
- Outline a Christian understanding of sacraments
- Give an example of a non-Christian ritual and explain its significance for followers of that tradition.
A Invite students to keep a journal noting times when they recognise the 'more' in the midst of the everyday.
Create a space for students to tell stories from their experience of these times.
B Invite students to participate in/observe both Christian and non-Christian ritual.
A living faith - doing justice
- To introduce the basic principles and methods of social analysis.
- To identify and analyse the links between religious belief and commitment, and action for justice and peace.
- To explore a range of justice issues from a religious perspective.
- To engage in action for justice as an expression of faith in action.
- Reflect on one's own situation and context in the light of questions of power, resources, meaning, values and relationships.
- Identify key economic, political, cultural and social structures.
- Explore how structures function to maintain the 'status quo'.
- Social analysis - a tool in religious and secular teaching.
- Identify the most significant economic, political, cultural and social structures within own situation that influence
- the allocation of resources
- the sources and types of power
- key personal and interpersonal relationships
- the meaning and value accorded to people and their situation.
- Be able to discuss how structural factors function to maintain specific inequalities e.g. poverty, gender, discrimination.
- Outline how a community of faith uses social analysis in addressing a contemporary justice issue.
A In small groups investigate different issues of discrimination today and their causes.
B Media watch - look at reports in local and national newspapers to see how issues relating to poverty are reported.
C Take a document issued by a community of faith and study how it uses social analysis.
Justice - at the heart of it all
- Different secular understandings of 'justice'.
- Understandings of justice from different faith communities.
- The Judeo-Christian vision of justice.
- Jesus and justice.
- Be able to compare a secular understanding of justice with a religious understanding of justice.
- Outline key features of the Judeo- Christian vision of justice.
- Outline key characteristics of Jesus' vision of God's Kingdom.
- Give examples of Jesus taking a stand for justice in his own context and relate it to an issue today.
A Role-play a situation where Jesus took a stand for justice. Then discuss contemporary situations that might relate to this story.
B Explore the relationship between justice and peace through case studies.
C Research the lives of people who are working for justice.
Justice in action
- The link between justice and peace.
- Is war ever justified?
- Why are people hungry?
- Human rights - God-given? (exploration of issues of racism, sexism, etc)
- Care for the earth.
- Organisations who work for justice from a religious vision.
- Explain and illustrate the relationship between justice and peace.
- Summarise and critique the just war theory.
- Explain the causes of world hunger and suggest a religious response.
- Explain the link between human dignity and human rights in religious thinking.
- Explain how racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination are contrary to religious living.
- Explain how care for the earth is linked to religious faith.
A Using case studies discuss the statement 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere'. Martin Luther King Jn.
B Organise a class visitor from an organisation working for justice and as follow-up decide on an action for justice that students can take.
C Using the internet, books, films, etc. research the life of a person whom you admire because of their work for justice, peace or care for the earth.
- To develop an awareness of how prayer, ritual and worship have always been a part of the human response to life.
- To explore some of the expressions of prayer, ritual and meditation in a variety of cultures and religious traditions.
The world of ritual
- Human beings as ritual makers.
- Secular ritual in contemporary culture.
- Religious ritual in contemporary culture.
- Explain the meaning of ritual.
- Name significant times and events in a variety of cultures which generate rituals.
- Name different types of rituals and give an example of each.
A Survey the role of ritual in students own lives.
B Research past and present places of ritual (e.g. go on a virtual tour of Newgrange).
C Explore different means of expressing ritual - dance, drama, art.
- Exploring prayer as a need to communicate with God.
- The nature and function of prayer.
- Examples of prayer from different religious traditions.
- Sacred spaces.
- Discuss why prayer is important in human life.
- Present examples of different kinds of prayer - petition, praise and thanksgiving, penitence, etc.
- Give examples of formal prayer from two religious traditions.
- Give examples from different religious traditions of sacred spaces and say what makes them sacred.
A Celtic spirituality - why and how it has relevance today.
B Prayer and politics - Can prayer be used as a political tool? Examine 'god-talk' in political discourse.
C Allow opportunities for students to participate in/observe different types of prayer.
Meditation and contemplation
- The human need for reflection in a busy world.
- The place of meditation in two major world religions.
- The use of sacred and inspirational texts in meditation.
- The use of mantra in meditation.
- Origins and development of some contemplative traditions.
- Some modern expressions of this tradition.
- Discuss why reflection is important in the life of a young person.
- Explain the term 'meditation' and describe its use in two world religions.
- Experience how sacred texts and mantra are used in meditation.
- Give an account of the origins of one contemplative tradition and its development.
- Discuss how the contemplative tradition continues to have appeal.
A Invite different people to talk to the class about ways of reflection/prayer.
B Read selections from different authors from the contemplative tradition.
C Create a sacred space/quiet space where students can experience stillness and reflection.
- To understand the power of story to communicate a truth on many levels.
- To explore the meaning of 'truth' in the Bible or another sacred text.
- To explore the transformative power of story past and present.
- Who tells the stories?
- What kinds of story dominate our culture?
- Stories that carry meaning and have transformative power.
Examples from contemporary culture.
Examples from the sacred texts.
- Give examples of different kinds of story today
- Describe features of a 'classic'.
- Share a story from your own experience that has meaning.
- Show examples of the power of sacred text as story to motivate and inspire.
A Find examples of contemporary story as parable, myth, ideology, satire, etc.
B Form a book club in which everyone reads a "classic" and reports to the class.
C Research case-studies that illustrate the importance of story in people's lives.
What is truth?
- The meaning of truth in a world of relativism.
- If it's not "true" does it exist?
- Truth and sacred texts.
- Interpreting sacred texts with adult eyes.
- Be able to define key concepts.
- Understand difference between a scientific and religious understanding of 'truth'.
- Be able to give examples from own experience of different kinds of 'truth'.
- Be able to give examples from sacred texts of different kinds of truth.
- Be able to summarise a contemporary approach to reading a sacred text.
- Be able to read a sample of sacred/biblical texts with 'adult eyes'.
A Compare scientific notions of truth and concepts of truth found in poetry, music, religion.
B Invite students in groups to read a selection of sacred texts and uncover the different layers of 'truth'.
C Invite a Scripture scholar to talk to the class about modern approaches to reading sacred texts.
God's unfolding story
- God's story in many forms -the meaning of revelation in religious traditions.
- Where is God speaking today?
- All part of God's story? The student's story
- Give examples from two major religious traditions of stories of God's revelation.
- Explore different contemporary stories of God's revelation.
- Be able to discuss how a religious interpretation of life can influence a person.
A Review the newspapers over a week and identify all the stories that are of religious concern.
B Look at different interpretations of God's revelation in contemporary writing, music, drama or film.
C Keep a journal to make note of the places and times where a person might see/experience God's presence in own life or the life of others.