The contested place of religion in the Australian Civics and Citizenship curriculum: exploring the secular in a multi-faith society

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Peterson, A. (2016)

In the absence of a dedicated subject for teaching general religious education, the inclusion of Civics and Citizenship education as a new subject within the first Federal Australian Curriculum provides an important opportunity for teaching the religious within Australian schools. The curriculum for Civics and Citizenship requires students to learn that Australia is both a secular nation and a multi-faith society, and to understand religions practiced in contemporary Australia. The term "secular" and the need for students to learn about Australia’s contemporary multi-faith society raise some significant issues for schools and teachers looking to implement Civics and Citizenship. Focusing on public (state-controlled) schools, the argument here draws on recent analysis within the Australian context (Byrne, 2014; Maddox, 2014) to suggest that religion remains an important factor in understanding and shaping democratic citizenship in Australia, that this should be acknowledged within public schools, and that a constructivist, dialogical-based pedagogy provides possibilities for recognising the religious within Civics and Citizenship education.
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