to the Anglican Schools Office
The Anglican Schools Office exists to support, resource, provide training opportunities and build fellowship between the Chaplains and Religious Education teachers working in its associated schools in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, and encourage interaction between the schools and the church.
A Word from Anne
What do we do with Religious Education?
The 2001 Dearing Review into Church of England Schools suggested that “Church schools are places where a particular vision of humanity is offered”. We have long hoped that most of that vision is “caught rather than taught,” but it has become increasingly clear that we need the teaching part as well. New Zealand is a highly secular country in a deeply religious world. The majority of young people worldwide absorb a basic understanding of what faith is from the worldview of their people. Students growing up surrounded by our secular worldview will need deliberate input if they are to develop a balanced and informed approach to religion. By helping students to explore what a life of faith means, then, we are enabling them to understand something which is of vital importance to 84% of the world, and which shapes international worldviews, politics, social movements, the arts, and history.
We are also helping them deal with material they are exposed to daily. The best protection against people accepting the biased and bigoted statements about religions they may read on social media is for them to be (1) given sufficient information to judge such statements against (2) trained in the sort of thinking skills necessary to weigh up such statements, and (3) nurtured into a mindset which enables them to listen respectfully to the views of others. These are the skills we are developing through the Middle School Theology course, and which I have seen displayed in many religious education classes around the country. And these are skills that are vital today in our world of suspicion and misinformation.
There’s still lots we need to work at and work through in our teaching of RE, but we must never downplay the immense value of what it is we are offering our students.