The National Curriculum, the SACE and most highly regarded curricula around the world expect young people to be challenged and to develop personally and socially from their immediate origins. The ability to interrogate text and culture in light of modern scientific and social science advances should lead us to aspire to a sustainable, flourishing inner life and biosphere. The classes present big issues and questions that demand more than simplistic irrational responses. We study religion and spirituality to be truly happy and more fully human. It comes down to whether one sees education as merely instrumental or for personal gain, i.e. to get a job or ATAR, or does education liberate and build community, should it foster the common good?
From the ancient Greeks through western, eastern, and, of course, even earlier indigenous traditions to the present day, reflection and thinking skills are now nothing less than the key to survival of life on the planet and of homo sapiens. Community of Inquiry teaches thinking and language skills, requires active listening, argument mapping, sound reasoning, and much more. At SACE level our courses are comparable with IBO, UK, US and the best in global curricula, and examine ethics, epistemology and metaphysics.
Westminster is proud of it’s protestant Methodist and now Uniting Church heritage. The Wesleyan tradition from Oxford onwards is grounded in rigorous scholarship, love of learning, and, above all, a living out of commitment, love, service and faith in the world, beyond the cloisters as it were. Spiritual traditions ask us the deepest and ultimate questions about meaning and purpose. Like any ancient enduring and inspiring source of wisdom, biblical texts must be understood in their context and genre, and understood and interpreted in the present circumstances. Some passages may be less helpful today, but there is clearly much of importance and value, and young people have a right to know this about their heritage and calling.
One where conversation, questioning, exploring and inquiring are encouraged as life long pursuits. One that sees social and spiritual development as inseparable from physical, mental and psychological. One that nurtures curiosity, and celebrates culture, aesthetics, and diversity. One that doesn’t passively accept received wisdom, without holding it up to examine the good, the beautiful, and the true. Many grad school entry programs world wide value philosophy as a prerequisite, as the language skills and critical thinking encouraged, enable them to see through the banal and flourish in business professions, the arts, and any other field of human endeavour.