Rymarz, R. (2013). Permeation of religious identity: Some challenges for Canadian Catholic schools - Part 2. Journal of Religious Education,61(2), 50-55. Australia: Australian Catholic University.
This paper is the second of a two part series which critically evaluates the notion that Catholic schools are permeated with a sense of Catholic identity. Building on the theoretical base established in part 1, this paper sets out some of the practical dimensions of permeation. As with part 1, this article focuses on Catholic schools in Canada with a particular stress on those in the province of Alberta. One of the most important aspects of permeation is the role of religious education in Catholic schools. If religious education in general is not given strong, ongoing and substantial support it is unlikely that claims of permeation of religious identity in Catholic schools can be sustained. A critical aspect of strong support of religious education is in curriculum development and in support of religious education teachers. In the first part of this paper it was argued that a very common theme in Catholic educational discourse is the idea that Catholics schools should seek to provide an educational vision where the religious dimension is given prominence. This is not just in formal religious education classes but throughout the curriculum and in the wider life of schools. One way of expressing this idea is to argue that Catholic identity should permeate all that is done in the school. This idea is very influential, for instance, in Canadian Catholic schools. While permeation may be a worthwhile goal for Catholic schools to strive for, this must be seen within the context of a number of significant challenges that face Catholic schools today. These challenges include, most notably, the changing demographics of schools where many parents, students and teachers no longer exhibit high levels of religious commitment. This results in a loss of the critical mass needed for effective collaborative action which, in turn, makes the permeation ideal difficult to realise. In this paper three specific and practical examples are given which are fundamental to permeation of Catholic identity being realised. The focus for this paper is on how permeation can be realised through what occurs in the classrooms of Catholic schools.
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