What your teen is learning
In 2012, a new Ontario Catholic Elementary Curriculum Policy Document was written and accepted by the Catholic Bishops of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Northwest Territories for Catholic education. To respond to the new Catholic Curriculum Policy Document, there is a new program and resource, Growing in Faith; Growing in Christ, which is being developed collaboratively by Catholic educators from across Canada and Pearson Education.
The religious education program is structured around the Church liturgical year, which is based on the life of Jesus Christ. This enables students to live and express faith in an integrated way at school, at home and in the parish community. The new religious education program reflects the contents of faith expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) and follows the rationale and methodology of The General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) where the Six Tasks of Catechesis are the basis of the curriculum (GDC 85–86).
Growing in Faith; Growing in Christ mirrors the GDC's Six Tasks of Catechesis:
The religious education program is being updated over the next several years. The new program, and its resource, Growing in Faith; Growing in Christ, was implemented at the Grade 1 level during the 2015–2016 school year. Grades 2 and 3 will be implemented during the 2016–2017 school year, Grade 4 in 2017–2018, grades 5 and 6 in 2018–2019, and grades 7, 8 and 9 will follow no later than 2019–2020.
Religious education is an essential and integral part of the life and culture of a Catholic school. Through religious education, students are invited to develop the knowledge, beliefs, skills, values and attitudes needed to build a relationship with God and community through the person of Jesus Christ. In Catholic schools, students participate in a religious education program that is authorized by the Bishop of the local diocese.
Religious education shares the same goals and objectives set forth for all good education; that is, the growth and development of the whole person in all his or her dimensions—physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual. (read more...)
Religious education has four essential characteristics.
With an awareness of the uniqueness of each student and a recognition that religious development takes place through a process of stages and within a community, it is expected that program presentation will vary from place to place to meet the diverse learning and religious formation needs of all students.
The school, working with the local parish, complements parents in their role as principal educators of their children. Home and family play a vitally important role in the faith development of children. Within the family, seeds of faith are planted. Family relationships and daily experiences are major factors in shaping a child’s values, attitudes and Catholic identity. Regular religious practice and the application of classroom learning to daily life are critical parts of religious formation.
Prayer is an integral part of the religious education program and of each school day since intimacy with God is the ultimate goal of catechesis. Respecting the individual differences of children and our changing human needs, prayer is experienced in many different ways: silent reflection, guided imagery, scriptural prayer, song and formal community prayer. As we enter into prayer, we give praise and thanks for God’s loving presence, and call upon the Spirit to guide, nourish and empower our lives through Jesus Christ.
Teaching the sacraments occurs within the religious education program. Sacraments celebrate the presence of Christ in our lives. They are effective signs that make God’s grace present to us in love, healing and the transformation of our lives. Eucharist and Reconciliation are an essential part of each child’s religious formation and a necessary grounding for a mature faith. As with many basic themes, Eucharist and Reconciliation are introduced in Grade 1 but continue to be deepened and intensified in each year thereafter. Children who have not yet celebrated First Communion or First Reconciliation are always welcome to contact their parish to begin their immediate preparation for the sacraments. The sacrament of Confirmation typically happens in Grade 6, and just like the other sacraments, preparation classes are provided through the parish.
All of what Catholics believe is stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). In 1997, The General Directory for Catechesis (GDC) was written to guide Catholics in faith formation. Within The General Directory for Catechesis, the goals and aims for religious education are named: the definitive aim of catechesis is to put people in touch, in communion, and intimacy with Jesus Christ (GDC 80). The fundamental tasks of catechesis are 1) promotion of knowledge of the faith, 2) liturgical education, 3) moral formation, 4) teaching to pray, 5) education for community life, and 6) missionary initiation (GDC 85-86). Excerpts from both the CCC and the GDC are quoted for the teacher at the end of each lesson to help root the contents and activities of the theme in Church tradition. The religious education program resource interprets for students these six tasks in a manner appropriate to their age and development.
As said, the religious education program is structured around the Church liturgical year, which is based on the life of Jesus Christ. This enables students to live and express faith in an integrated way at school, at home and in the parish community.
Stand by Me
Building on the scriptural themes of Grade 7, the Grade 8 program focuses students’ attention on the person of Jesus Christ, revealed as the fullness and perfect image of God. Your teen will reflect on the last part of the Apostles’ Creed, which is studied as the summation of the faith that has been handed on to us through the Church. They will study key aspects of the Sacraments and reflect on the Ten Commandments. Your teen is invited to a meaningful life based on Gospel values and morality, a call to hope and personal faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through a study of the various forms of prayer and sacramental celebrations, they are encouraged to make life-affirming choices as a response to Jesus’ invitation to live a life of love and service.
Your teen will explore these themes through the study of 8 units:
Unit 1: We believe in the Holy Spirit.
For more about Grade 8 Religious Education, contact your teen’s teacher.
How your teen is assessed
Religious educators distinguish four different aspects of learning: knowledge of material, critical thinking and interaction with the material, individual acceptance of the material as meaningful, and actual incorporation of the material into one’s personal life. Religion teachers strive to achieve all four outcomes, recognizing, however, that some lend themselves to evaluation and grading better than others. Teachers will clarify for themselves what it is that they are marking and how they arrive at the grades. They will clearly and explicitly inform your teen how they will be graded. Your teen will be reassured that their grades are not a function of their belief or disbelief, or of their agreement or disagreement with the teacher on controversial questions.
Resources to help your teen
Teachers will make use of a variety of approved resource books to assist in the delivery of the program. Throughout the province, variation in student texts will occur. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is a primary resource for teachers and is interpreted for students in a manner appropriate to their age and development. Not everything in the Catechism is incorporated because, as the Catechism itself points out, what is taught must be adapted to the “differences of culture, age, spiritual maturity, and social and ecclesial conditions among all those to whom it is addressed” (#24).