Title

The changing nature of the Catholic school community

Date of Award

1-1-2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Associate Professor Jan Gray

Abstract

The role of the Catholic school, as outlined by Catholic leaders within dioceses around Australia and supported by Vatican documents, is to assist in the Church's role of proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ. Catholic schools aim to promote Gospel values within the daily life of their community. Integral to this expectation is the teaching of the traditions, doctrine, and practices of the Catholic faith, supported by the presence of Catholic educators. The shifting nature of Catholic schools has meant that in recent times, some members of the school community are not familiar with beliefs and practices of the Catholic faith. This growing world-wide trend indicates a changing community expectation of the role of the Catholic school, where dements of Catholic culture are at odds with the contemporary culture to which children are exposed in their daily lives. This portfolio examines the impact of the changing nature of the Catholic school community on the Catholic nature of Catholic schools. This impact is considered from both global and local perspectives. The Structure of the portfolio includes a document analysis of key literature related to this change, supported by a small, illustrative case study of four rural schools in Western Australia. Early chapters examine the structures of governance existing within both contexts and determine the extent to which these structures enable the Catholic school to fulfil the Church's mission. The portfolio outlines challenges faced by Catholic school communities in promoting the Church's Gospel value message through a Catholic values-based curriculum. The small investigation undertaken as part of the portfolio draws on both quantitative and qualitative data to determine the role played by the Catholic elements of schools in strengthening the promotion of the Gospel value message within the life of the school community. Conclusions are drawn to assist Catholic schools work toward strengthening the development of an authentic Catholic culture within the life of the school, and the implementation of a Catholic, values-based curriculum. These recommendations provide guidance for Catholic schools in developing a shared understanding of the Church's Gospel value message promoted within the life of the school community.

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