Aussie kids mostly know Jesus as a swearword

Tammy Earnshaw explains why we need to update our Religious Education

In a time when Religious Education in schools experiences regular public scrutiny and many Australian students hear (or use) “Jesus” as a swearword because they have little knowledge of his significance, the NSW/ACT Baptist Association are refreshing one of the most popular and nationally used resources in Australia – GodSpace.

GodSpace has been running for over 30 years in various forms and is currently operating in approximately 2,500 schools nationally.

However, an updated GodSpace is required for this new era of educating emerging generations in the Bible and the Christian faith.

Religious Education has always needed to keep-up with the latest teaching standards and state-directed curriculum expectations, but a new challenge had emerged, that Australian children lacked the basic knowledge of the Bible or the person of Jesus. After careful review in 2020, it was decided GodSpace needed to become more informative and engaging for students who are less familiar with the Bible and who are using digital resources more and more in their everyday education.

NSW/ACT Baptist Director of Ministries, Steve Bartlett says “GodSpace’s aim remains to help Australian students question, explore and discover the basics of the Christian faith as part of their education and personal development. Our purpose is the same, our method is adapting.”

To ensure SRE teachers and their students can access biblically relevant resources of the highest quality, the NSW & ACT Baptist Association has raised additional funds to help create a compelling suite of materials including updated teacher manuals, new teacher training videos, new in-class animation videos, and updated activities, songs and music – soon to be available online through the new GodSpace website.

Heidi Tak, who has overseen the GodSpace redevelopment project said,

“We believe our curious children deserve the best resources and our committed teachers deserve the best support.”

Teachers play such a critical role in ensuring classes are taught sensitively and in an age-appropriate way, which is why so much consideration has gone into upgrading the teacher support resources. Teachers have begun testing the new resources and one shared:

New GodSpace resources are currently being piloted. Image used with permission

 “I trialed the new GodSpace lessons just before Easter with some Year 3 and 4 students. We started by sharing about eggs and rabbits and the students had no trouble explaining why Easter Sunday and Monday had those names, but they struggled to say what was good about ‘Good Friday’.”

We quickly revised previous lessons about God creating people for deep friendship and where the Bible says, when Jesus died, he made it possible for us and for every other person who has ever lived to be friends with God.

‘So now do you know why it’s called Good Friday?’ I asked. So many hands went up! I didn’t have to tell them. They got it!”

Many churches from most major denominations have enjoyed using GodSpace in their religious education lessons within local schools and can be confident a team of theologically qualified education specialists have been at the helm of rewriting and updating the new curriculum.

The refreshed GodSpace resources are bible-based, high-quality and easily accessible online making it even easier for teachers of religious education to prepare engaging lessons for their students. Principals and teachers should be confident of the valuable role religious education plays in a child’s development. Some might argue, the most important!

If you’d like to become a Religious Education teacher or preview the new materials please visit GodSpace.

Let’s ensure future generations know who Jesus is – so much more than a swearword.

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