Spring is in the air....just!  and with it planning has commenced for the 2011 DAN Conference (see detail below).  

Positions are also being advertised for the 2011 School Year.  If your school is looking to appoint an RS Teacher, why not share details via the DAN e-newsletter which is sent periodically to 2000+ teachers across Australasia.  This is a free service provided for DAN members.
And as always, if you come across a great teaching resource, I'd love to hear from you so I can share it with the network.
                                                                                                          Warmly, Belinda Hill, DAN EO
Challenges Facing Religious Educators Today
Monday 20 September, 5pm
Newington College, Sydney
Email for more information or T. 02 9568 9333
8th International DAN CONFERENCE 18-20 APRIL 2011
Engaging Sceptical Minds with Ultimate Questions
Newington College - Sydney

When we take students' ultimate concerns as our starting point, the classroom becomes a space where we can explore the metaphysical, ethical, spiritual and philosophical dimensions of being human.  What is a good life?  Is God relevant today?  Can Science provide a total explanation?  Why is there suffering and evil?  What is of ultimate concern?  Opportunities to address such questions in a philosophically rigorous and existentially authentic way are rare, and yet answers have profound implications for the way we live. 
At the 2011 Dialogue Australasia Network Conference, outstanding educators will engage with and model strategies for exploring ultimate questions.  Keynote addresses will be followed by Making it Happen in the Classroom sessions, offering practical resources for both primary and secondary teachers of Religious and Philosophical Studies, Values and Ethics.  
NZ RS Teacher scoops Double Award!
Religious Studies has been thrust into the limelight of The Independent School system in New Zealand (ISNZ), with the recent double award to Catherine Syms, Religious Studies Director at Diocesan School for Girls in Auckland.

In April 2010, Catherine was awarded a one year research scholarship from the Heads of Independent Schools Trust which will allow her to pursue a study proposal to investigate approaches into improving the quality and delivery of an effective RS and Values programme within the independent schools. 
ISNZ 2010 Teaching Awards
(Catherine Syms on Left)
There is no state provision for professional RS teacher training in New Zealand, nor is there currently a unified and focused RS training module in the Anglican and Presbyterian theological training colleges. This study is primarily aimed at the provision of support for potential Chaplains within Anglican schools, but will take in a wider assessment of other candidates who might be considering an RS teaching career. The study will conclude with a presentation to the 2011 Independent Schools Conference, which will provide a significant opportunity to promote the subject across the sector as a whole - in both Church and non-aligned schools.

Following quickly on the heels of this research award, and on the basis of a separate nation-wide assessment process, in July Catherine was awarded the 2010 University of Distinction/ISNZ Excellence in Teaching Award for Exceptional Professional Performance for years 7-10. The Awards Ceremony was held at the 2010 ISNZ conference in Queenstown in August and Catherine's award presented by the NZ Minister of Education.

Congratulations Catherine!  Another great platform from which to promote RS and Values Education and to stimulate Principals into reflecting on the importance of our subject.  Contact Catherine...


St Peter's College in Auckland, NZ is an integrated Roman Catholic Year 7-13 Secondary School for boys.

Religious Studies is part of the core education offered at SPC, is part of its Special Character and compulsory for all students.  Considerable curriculum time is devoted to RS, with students having 3-5 periods/week from Years 7-13.

The aim of the Religious Studies Faculty at SPC is to develop intelligent, philosophically and theologically aware young men, who are spiritually confident and knowledgeable of the universal Catholic Christian tradition, in a contemporary context open to the world's religions.  It offers a wide range of high calibre courses in Scripture, History, Ethics, Spirituality, Philosophy and Theology.

Check out the Yrs 7-13 SPC Unit Outlines for a sense of what is possible when RS is given significant time in the curriculum.  Further resources from SPC will also be available for DAN members under the RESOURCES section of the website.

A warm thank you to David Legg (Head of Faculty), Dan Stollenwerk and the RS Faculty at SPC for their recent hospitality to the DAN EO and willingness to share their collective expertise and impressive resources. This is one buzzing RS Faculty which reflects the commitment and vision of the Faculty and support of Principal, Mr Fouhy.

The Buddha (2010) is a two-hour documentary made for PBS by award-winning filmmaker David Grubin and narrated by Richard Gere.  It tells the Buddha's story through painting and sculptures by some of the world's greatest artists and tracks his biography across the sweeping landscapes of northern India.  
The testimony of contemporary Buddhists, from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin to the Dalai Lama, provide insight into the ancient narrative of the man who never claimed to be God or God's emissary, but merely a human being who, in a world of unavoidable pain and suffering, had achieved a serenity that others, too, could find. 

The documentary is accompanied by a website rich with teaching resources including Story & Teachings, Timeline & Map, Related Articles and Educational Resources.  You can order the DVD from PBS.
A Visual History of 5,000 Years of Religion in 90 seconds.
How has the geography of religion evolved over the centuries, and where has it sparked wars?  The History of Religion from Maps of War gives a brief history of the major World Religions highlighting significant periods of inter-religious bloodshed.  A useful resource for an introductory lesson.

MOVIE: Africa United (2010) tells the extraordinary story of three Rwandan children and their dream to take part in the opening ceremony of the football World Cup. During their 3000 mile journey, we encounter an Africa few people ever see; experience an epic adventure across seven countries; and feel the joy, laughter and hope that comes from making an incredible journey together.
First and foremost Africa United is a dramatic, heartfelt and enchanting story set to enthral family audiences worldwide. But it also provides a fantastic opportunity to raise important issues in the classroom. Two lead characters are AIDS orphans and the friends they make along the way include a child soldier and a child in prostitution.
The good folk at Damaris have made available free resources to accompany African United, including:
*  A Secondary Assembly to reflect on the issue of hope
*  RE Lesson Plan that explores the relationship between poverty and prostitution
Whilst the Australasian release date for Africa United is yet to be confirmed, why not plan a unit in advance?  You can download movie clips from Damaris.
REMINDER - The Password to access resources on the DAN website changed on 1 July 2010.

Financial members will have received notification of their new password.
Having difficulties?  Email the DAN EO.
Check out recent interviews on Philosophy Bites:
  • Peter Singer on The Life You Can Save.  You'd help a drowning child.  Why then aren't we doing more to help children we know are sick and starving in other parts of the world (a timely question to revisit against the backdrop of the horrors of the crisis in Pakistan).
  • Stephen Neale on Meaning and Interpretation.  How relevant are intentions? Do words carry their meanings independently of the contexts in which they are used?
  • Hillel Steiner on Exploitation.  What is exploitation? Are some activities essentially exploitative?
Have you listened to the 14 podcasts on Ethics Bites??  Episodes include:
Shortcuts....to bits and pieces of interest...
*  READ Cardinal George Pell's new book Test Everything:  Hold Fast to What is Good  (May 2010) - a collection of 80 pieces which put the case that, 'It is more reasonable to believe in God than to reject the hypothesis of God by appealing to chance. Goodness, truth and beauty call for an explanation as do the principles of mathematics, physics, and the purpose-driven miracles of biology which run through our universe.''

*  WATCH a 3 part series about Sex & Faith from ABC Compass including Sex, Faith & MarriageSex & The Classroom & Sex, Lies & Cyberspace
* LISTEN to an interview with eminent contemporary philosopher Charles Taylor, author of A Secular Age, about a way to live in our pluralist western world -whether you are religious or not.
*  'Just don't do something:  sit there.'  In a world where urgent social and environmental issues call us to action, can we afford the luxury of contemplation? What is the relationship between doing and sitting? Laurence Freeman, Director of the World Community for Christian Meditation, looks at prayer, meditation and the virtue of stillness. 

If you've not discovered it already, check out the new ABC site which features contributions from some of the best and most provocative thinkers, theologians, philosophers, public intellectuals and politicians from Australia and the world.
Articles that would provide an excellent stimulus for class discussion include:

*  Refugees Make Us Strangers to Ourselves: in a piece that speaks directly to our current debates over the place of asylum seekers in Australian life, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, argues that is extremely dangerous when Western societies become complacent about having an "essentially tolerant character." The great gift of refugees within our national life is that they allow us "to see ourselves from outside, and to learn to be surprised (as well as grateful) at where we find ourselves."

* A Plea For Clear Thinking About The Burqa: As the legal status of the Muslim 'face veil' is back in the headlines as a Perth judge prohibited a devout Muslim woman from wearing a burqa when testifying before a jury in a recent fraud trial, Abdullah Saeed, Director of the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies at the University of Melbourne provides a balanced response and points out that 'as a society we allow both men and women to wear very little in public. Perhaps we should allow people to wear more if they want.'

*  An Eye For An Eye:  Judaism on Punishment and Torture:  The world-renowned Jewish theologian David Novak re-examines the way that the Jewish tradition understands the place and limits of punishment and torture.

*  The Catholic Ambivalence Toward Death:  Catholic theologian Paul Griffiths urges that we rediscover the ancient art of dying, the ars moriendi. "We are asked to applaud survivors of battles with cancer, to lament those who have succumbed after a long struggle, and to approach our own illnesses girded for war. All this encourages us to think that dying because of illness or old age is always a defeat, which is simply and spectacularly false. It encourages us, too, to approach our own illnesses with the idea of victory at all costs and by any means possible. But illness and old age are not wars. Indeed, they can sometimes be gifts."


Contact the DAN Executive Officer

T|  08 9367 8903
A|  34 Douglas Ave  SOUTH PERTH WA 6151