Our school uses the metaphor of a ‘slice of cake’ to articulate the richness of our Religious Education curriculum. The cake is at once recognised as a symbol of masterpiece and celebration. It is enjoyed in celebration, eaten in communion with others, and a slice may be taken home to share with others absent; it is discussed, its recipe shared. The ‘slice of cake’ metaphor suggests that the Religious Education curriculum is part of something larger; it is just a slice, a morsel, a taste of the larger masterpiece, which is the broader Christian Tradition. While maintaining the integrity of the masterpiece, a slice invites the diner into association with the cake in the same way that the Religious Education curriculum invites the learner into association with the Christian Tradition
Like a slice of the cake, the Religious Education curriculum, inspires those it reaches and consequently exemplifies the Catholic school’s responsibility “to do everything in its power to aid the Church to fulfil its catechetical mission (Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, 1977, 52) by forming “students who can articulate their faith and live it in an open and authentic way” (Archdiocese of Brisbane, 2014).
The cake is recognised from the outside by its external features, but a piece of cake, through a cross section of its parts, reveals the detail of design and flavour. In the same way, Religious Education curriculum reveals some insight into the distinct but complementary objectives of teaching religion and teaching people to be religious in a particular way. These aims are expressed in the explicit teaching and learning and the spiritual and liturgical experiences that are interwoven throughout the Religious Education curriculum.
As the structural integrity of the cake is maintained through the ingredients and the utilisation of effective cooking methods, so too, the most effective pedagogical tools, methods and frameworks are central to the delivery of Religious Education. Teachers are equipped with a repertoire of pedagogical strategies that meet the developmental and learning needs of all students for whom they have responsibility and rich assessment experiences, judged against explicit standards are used to ensure learning is achieved.
Examining the structure of the cake further reveals the invisible action of baking which causes ingredients to activate and the cake to rise and transform. An event of grace, realized in the experience of the person, this process of faith formation is reflected in the Religious Education aim of developing the whole person.
The layers present in the cake point to the different components of the curriculum, organised under content strands: Sacred Texts, Beliefs, Church and Christian Life. These strands are interrelated, taught in an integrated way, and in ways that are appropriate to specific local contexts. This meeting of culture and faith, which happens through the person, can be seen in the juncture between the cake and the external environment, literally the icing on the cake.
Finally, the garnish that accompanies the slice of cake, augmenting the visual impact and flavour of the cake presents the support of the Parish and family life, particularly evangelisation, catechesis and opportunities for faith development that are coordinated with Religious Education (Congregation for Catholic Education, 1988, 70). Engagement with the Parish, as an important factor in faith development, is however, viewed as a separate enterprise that complements Religious Education beyond the curriculum.
For teachers at St. Bernardine’s, the aims of the Religious Education curriculum are framed within the broad understanding that Religious Education continues a long way beyond the school grounds, just as the influence of curriculum extends far beyond the curriculum framework boundaries.