On 16 March, Clonard hosted the first Geelong Religious Education Leader’s network meeting for 2023 run by Mark Shafton from Melbourne Archdiocese of Catholic Schools. Leaders from Clonard, St Joseph’s, Iona, St Ignatius and Sacred Heart Colleges gathered in the Nagle room to explore the crucial role of dialogue in R.E classrooms and indeed all learning. On this day leaders further developed their capacity to lead teams to facilitate effective dialogue in the classroom.

The Pedagogy of Encounter model in Religious Education that we means that we are asking young people to consider their beliefs, those of society,  of the Catholic faith tradition and those of different faith traditions. Students learn the skills of deep questioning and listening, in order to understand difference, and to be open to developing a relationship with God or the divine through this. They are also challenged to commit to action having reflected on how they might be called to respond.

We recognise that for young people, cancel culture may suggest that difference of perspectives is something to be shut down rather than to be explored in a respectful manner. Opening up discussion and teaching these skills is important; it leads students to value ‘the other’ and be better equipped for participating in dialogue as an essential part of both learning and life.

Liz Sullivan; Pedagogy of Encounter Leader