As preparation for engaging more seriously with some more school chaplaincy, I’ve been reading the ‘Religious and Moral Education: principles and practice’ section of the Curriculum for excellence. And I have to say, it’s quite inspiring. I’d picked the paper up with some misgivings, but in fact, the curriculum aims to help pupils gradually explore beliefs and values with a view to developing their own.
Full recognition is given to the religious traditions, with Christianity as the indispensible one (overtly for historical and cultural reasons). The pupil is expected to learn from these traditions, not just study them. Teachers are advised to consult with local faith representatives about beliefs and practices.
Of course, there are particular aims of this curriculum. Development of toleration of those whose beliefs and values differ from yours is strongly highlighted. There are certain values which are expected to be instilled in the pupils: wisdom, justice, compassion and integrity. The place of non-religious belief- and value-systems is recognised.
But what I especially like is the curriculum’s awareness of how beliefs and values are embedded in individuals:
Knowledge and understanding are an essential part of this personal reflection and exploration but they are not its only components. A learner may feel and express a sense of awe and wonder … The spiral, cyclical nature of this process is evident; accordingly, the framework of experiences and outcomes provides opportunities to visit and revisit issues as the journey continues through life. (So, fo example, a sense of awe and wonder is by no means limited to any particular stage of life.)
No, indeed it is not. This passage is worthy of a spiritual director’s manual. I hope our young people do have a sense of awe and wonder in RME at school. That would indeed be excellence.