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Putting Scripture in Schools to the test - has it kept up with the world?

SRE leader in NSW receives Churchill Fellowship

Murray Norman is about to find out if “Scripture” (Special Religious Education, SRE, in NSW; Religious Instruction, RI, in Queensland; and seminars in ACT, SA, and Tasmania) is as good as he has been telling everyone it is.

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“I intend to bring back a global perspective of faith education and what that can provide Australia.” – Murray Norman

Norman is CEO of Christian SRE in NSW and has won a Churchill Fellowship which will allow him to visit Finland, the US, UK, India, Israel and Germany to explore best practices in religious education.

Norman is among 112 people from across the country to receive the prestigious Churchill Fellowship, worth some $3.1 million collectively, and funding travel for up to eight weeks.

“Through the Fellowship, I hope to provide young people with the opening to ask big questions of faith, life and values and have the opportunity to discover the benefits of faith and belief for life” said Norman.

“I am looking forward to visiting world leaders from across the globe, with different experiences and contexts for faith education, and learning how that provides young people with hope and meaning for life – and a foundation for them to base their life decisions and values.”

“I intend to bring back a global perspective of faith education and what that can provide Australia, so that our young people can develop as Australian and global citizens.

“We want to build on the strength that is in NSW Special Religious Education of different faith providers being able to teach young people in the faith of their families, so that this can be delivered across the vastness of Australia – whether that be in metropolitan, regional or remote locations in all states and territories.”

Norman’s travel will be guided by a world expert, UNESCO chair Education and Human Values Professor Zehavit Gross. Dr. Gross is a senior lecturer and the head of graduate program of Policy and Leadership in Informal Education Systems in the School of Education, Bar-Ilan University, Israel. She specialises in Socialization Processes (religious, secular, feminine and civic) among adolescents.

Under her guidance, Norman will compare two key approaches to teaching religion -“Instrumental” verses “Reflective” learning – leaning away from simply giving information to students and towards helping learners think for themselves.

In the UK, Norman will work with Professor Trevor Cooling – chairman of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales – to examine multi-faith education. With James Dobson of ‘Focus on the Family’ in Colorado, USA, Norman will look at the effects of removing religious education from state schools.

Norman’s research will feed into a review of the National Framework for Values Education which is currently being reviewed.

Norman has been spent the past 15 years developing faith education in NSW where more than 430,000 young people attend SRE classes in local public schools (both primary and high school). NSW has the strongest religious education system in Australia.

The Churchill Fellowship will enable Norman to take his experience and engage with other world leaders in the field, to bring new knowledge back to Australia so all the states can participate in the benefits of faith education.

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