Principles for a Creation-based Curriculum with Particular Reference to the Writings of Dermot Lane
Scientific findings, theories and hypotheses about the origins, design and future of the universe often seem to challenge belief in a Creator. Questions about the existence of a Divine Maker compel religious educators in Catholic high schools to reconsider the presentation of creation. Accepting the importance of scientific literacy for adolescents, educators teaching about creation require sound curriculum based on foundational knowledge about the physical universe and theological understanding that engages the dialogue between science and religion. Anchored by the teachings of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, this thesis employs the writings of theologian and educator Dermot Lane as a key point of reference for incorporating insights from cosmology, anthropology and ecology into a response to creation-related issues. Lane, the current President of Mater Dei Institute of Education in Dublin, Ireland, offers an interdisciplinary approach based upon a careful balancing of modern scientific understandings, contemporary religious beliefs, and traditional Christian doctrines. A sampling of English-language high school religious education textbooks printed by prominent Catholic publishing houses in the U.S.A. and Canada reveals that current print resources generally limit the opportunity for a thorough investigation of creation-oriented questions. Neglected areas of study necessitate an educational response. Selected principle statements form a curricular framework that highlights (1) the importance of knowledge about the physical world for Christian belief and (2) the connection between questions of both the origins and the end of human life and the universe. Going beyond conventional resources, this creation-based curriculum promotes investigation of fundamental questions for developing twenty-first century competencies rather than focusing on Christian beliefs alone. Delving into concepts such as gender, human death, the cosmic Christ and the Eucharist, the framework outlines the basis and rationale for inquiry through critical thinking and student reflection. This interdisciplinary approach for religious education can improve high school curriculum in a constructive, compelling manner. It challenges students to critique common misconceptions about Christian belief in creation, with the intention of inspiring wonder, curiosity, faith, deeper understanding, and openness to religious ways of experiencing reality.
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