Connect Reviewers: Comments and Concerns

If you have read the Connect review, you will know that the reviewers were described as-
‘A mix of staff with substantial knowledge and experience in teaching, curriculum development, government policy and administration, and departmental policies and procedures including in the areas of RI, student wellbeing, inclusive education, and safe and supportive school communities undertook the review with oversight by an Executive Director.
The reviewers held qualifications in primary and secondary teaching, psychology, social sciences and governance and public policy.’

We have obtained their working notes and made a list of their comments/concerns to specific lessons in Connect.  The full list is below:

 


 

“Is about the domino effect of sinning. Examples are given of sinners and how this then led to babies dying, unhappiness, etc. Would some students then blame themselves for bad things that happen to family and friends and that are then outside their control.”

“Servant, death as consequence of sin, rape, killed, murder, assassination.”

“Concern about this may impact on students’ emotional health and may cause discomfort/upset of students. i.e. a mother left her own child to a stranger.”

“Could be discomforting for some students – to live our own way is considered as sinful and this could lead to punishment.”

“The game instructed in a way to demonstrate consequences if people don’t obey God.The example given may be too confronting for students who had a rough day at home or living in foster homes.”

“Concern about description of God sent his son Jesus to die and come back alive. Younger students who do not have the Christian background may try to understand this as biological parent and son relationship.”

“Pictures in colours that shows Jesus on cross – may cause discomfort for some students.”

“Concern about putting students into groups that being labelled as good and bad, strong and weak, with direct examples about what would bad/strong groups do to other groups.”

“It is unclear if Bible background will be discussed at lessons, they include references to unsafe behaviours e.g. murder, rape, types of suffering.”

“Explicit description about unsafe and violent behaviours.”

“Not sure how students would cope if example is mentioned in lesson.”

“Concern about words “assassination after assassination” and “desired to kill” in these Bible backgrounds.”

“Students are encouraged to show they are followers of Jesus – could be encouraging them to share with classmates who are not in the RI class.”

“May be the first time a 7 year old has seen this – could be confronting.”

“Not the role of the RI instructor to deal with a student or families personal issues during the RI lesson.”

“Need to provide the context of the role of a servant in Biblical times – difference between servant and slave.”

“Some students may feel pressured into adding their name to the ‘Followers of Jesus’ list. Some students may be concerned about the consequences of not putting their name on the list.”

“RI instructor should understand that this lesson would not be delivered as a whole of school assembly.”

“Warning of how we are not to respond to God.”

“Whether it was right or wrong for the disciple to cut off the servant of the high priest’s ear.”

“Trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection and not in ourselves.”

“Rescue us from our sins.”

“Sins & judgement/curses.”

“Warning re judgement about lack of trust in God.”

“We need rescuing from Sin/sacrifice.”

“Is this Okay? – Implied that if you want to live with God as your king you should/must attend church or local kid’s club.”

“Teachers/Instructors told to emphasis events are historical and true, that God is contol over everything including us in the present.”

“Not about changing a student’s belief but a powerful message for a 7-9 year old that we need rescuing from sin.”

“Thoughts of getting rid of someone centre on breaking the law or causing harm in most peoples thinking?”

“What would a pretend sacrifice be? Why is this necessary to demonstrate to students. It may promote students to replicate.”

“Consider allergies such as peanuts in chocolates which could be life threatening.”

“Sacrifice, death is a consequence of sin, sin”

“Killing, devil, pgs 146, 148, 153 (re. spreading the word), people wondering if being blind is a punishment from God, hate.”

“Death is inevitable, regardless of sin or not.”

“Strong emphasis on sin, without a clear understanding of what sin actually is (outside of not loving God’s way).”

“The concept of thinking of ways to kill someone is inappropriate.”

“Graphic details of injuries sustained during death.”

“Previous lessons focused on how horrible it is to sin, then the lesson goes on to say that everyone sins- this message could be confusing for students.”

“This is not a good example of what is not a commandment.”

“This is not the only definition of joyful.”

“Encourages students to make choices outside of the Smart Choices strategy.”

“At the centre of this lesson is the hatred between two groups of people.”

“This is putting the focus on what a person with disability cannot do.”

“This activity is based on the assumption that all students have ‘healthy legs’.”

“Being blind should not be mentioned as a punishment, nor should it be mentioned it was because his parents did something wrong.”

“Is it appropriate to make a man with leprosy?”

“This concept may too mature for students in the lower primary.”

“Message of killing.”

“This may contradict lawful activity.”

“Students interpretation of sin may be very different and this question could raise potentially contentious issues.”

“The actual definition of faith is not what is defined in the response section.”

“Are references to the devil and dirt talk appropriate?”

“It should be made clear that schools may have different policies and procedures for managing student discipline. Teachers must adhere to the schools disciplinary measures.”

“Taking away child choice.”

“Could be taken very literally- maybe not appropriate for a whole school assembly.”

“Concern that children will self-blame for others’ actions; particularly in relation to family breakups.”

“Not sure if this is appropriate for students who have social and emotional difficulties.”

“This could be taken literally and misinterpreted.”

“With no other information this encourages a very literal interpretation of aspects which can lead to student exclusion.”

“Not appropriate discussion of student needs. Privileges intelligence.”

“Clear delineation of RI instructors boundaries need to be given here- would discipline be the Classroom Teacher’s responsibility?”

“Use of animal sacrifices, killing, chopping ear, death.”

“As per their own words: “this lesson may bring up issues surrounding sickness and death””

“Asking children to sit on the paddle-pop-stick chair – which will break. Is it safe?”

“Too violent.”

“Too violent.”

“Too violent.”

“Looks like a threat.”

“Children should be equal – no privileges for anyone.”

“Two wives? (and possible incest).”

“Sin, to enter uninvited or unclean in the presence of God was punishable by death, sacrificial system in final chapters of Exodus, prostitute, devil, everyone deserves the punishment of god as we have all sinned, evil.”

“Punishing the king and all of Egypt, killing the first born.”

“Should be using the language of correction more in line with school’s policy.”

“Murder, rape, incest, adultery, Satan, animal sacrifices, barren women.”

“Sin, death, punishment, killing and sacrificing animals; God sent 10 plagues; slavery.”

“Will students blame themselves for bad things happening around them?”

“Is this a risk to wellbeing for students whose lives aren’t good?”

“Sentenced to death, nailed to the cross.”

“One potential wellbeing concern could be linked to the nature of the content/context – how is a student’s emotional and psychological health considered if – The student has a very close friend who has separate/alternative/no faith beliefs – – given the student can securely believe they will have ‘eternal life’, however, because of what they have learned their best friend will not?”

“The course material does not have synergy with DET policy in a number of areas including:

  • Safe and Supportive schools (eg causing harm to self and others; not inciting people to break the law) Delivery
  • The material is developed and published by a religious group designed for a contextual faith based delivery.
  • The Teacher’s Manual is written in language appropriate for teachers. The question that arises is ‘how’ the presenter/deliverer actually presents the material to the students-Do they adapt the language to the level of the students or use the Teacher’s Manual words as a ‘script’. In either case teaching and clarifying contextual literacy will be required as the supporting concepts are often ‘biblical text’ and references.
  • Teaching techniques and hints – identifies the ‘evidence board'”

“The representation and nature of ‘evidence’ in the material in reference to the ‘evidence board’ is vastly different than the DET curriculum interpretation of what evidence is. This could very likely cause confusion when students are ‘providing evidence’ for curriculum assignments and assessment. Particularly what does and does not represent ‘evidence’.”

“Negative terms, such as references to this world as “fallen”.”

“Bringing life into the world would mean suffering”.”

“The use of word “special!’ should be avoided as it has different connotations and undertones in terms of its association to disability.”

“The use of negative concepts such as killing, angry, and judging other’s attitude to be bad.”

“The language and the activity are not appropriate for teaching. It has the potential to cause psychological harm and effect students’ emotional and health wellbeing.”

“This activity is teaching violence to students.”

“This type of activity should be avoided. It has the potential to upset some students and cause psychological harm.”

“Including this type of activity which relates to teaching students about leprosy which can be a quite debilitating condition, is questionable. This can have an emotional and psychological impact on students.”

“What does “doomed” mean?… this type of activity has the potential to cause students emotional and psychological harm.”

“This question/possible response appear to be soliciting students through its focus on providing students with information about how to become a Christian.”

“Religion and faith language appears to be mixed-up in the manual. Use of “us” and “we” throughout the manual has the potential to be seen to influence a student’s thinking beyond instruction.”

“Lesson Aims and outcomes – these sections in the manual seems to focus around ensuring that students’ thinking as well as practice is moulded in some way. It may be just the use of language which can have unintended impact/influence on a student’s thinking. Teacher reflections sections appear to have a similar language focus. Distinction between preaching and teaching may need to be considered in any future updates to the Manual.”

“Language of rejection can be psychologically harmful to students.”

“The use of evil thoughts, loss of relationship and trust are questionable in terms of their negative impact on a student’s emotional and psychological health if used in the instruction. It can be upsetting to students who may be experiencing life difficulties and they relate this to their own circumstances.”

“The language used in questionable in the context of religious teaching, especially how it gets interpreted by a student in their own context and circumstance.”

“Acknowledging that this is written in the background but if used by a teacher in their teaching to students, it has the potential to emotionally and psychologically harm students.”

“This encourages the teacher to share this text to the students which appears to have the potential to emotionally upset harm the students.”

“Reference to someone not having a lot of friends can be upsetting for some students. References to death and removal of the picture from the frame can be upsetting for some students.”

“Asking students to write their own prayer of trust in God, using their own practical examples can emotionally upset some students who may be experiencing difficulties in life generally.”

“References to words such as ugly can have psychological impact on students with body image issues.”

“The focus of this prayer does not align to the inclusivity concept.”

“Punishment and exclusion do not comply with the inclusive nature of school education.”

“Includes things like knife, handcuffs and other weapons which are associated to violence.”

“Condescending language.”

“The activities on this page have extensive references to death.”

 

 

 

 

 

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