Would you change the Religion class if it were competency-based?

Depending on the application of one or the other pedagogical model, this would affect the focus of the Religion curriculum itself.

Javier Segura-March 29, 2021-Reading time: 3 minutes
religion class

Photo credit: Priscila Du Preez / Unsplash

Education has been in the news again these days. The reason is that the new curriculum model has been proposed within the framework of the LOMLOE education law. We have been able to read in the press that the Government is planning a turnaround in education so that it will not be memoristic and that the central axis of education will be the process of learning by competencies. There is also talk in the media about how Minister Celaá wants to promote the model of learning areas in the education system, breaking in some way the concept of subject. And with these many other topics and debates specific to the educational field are occupying the pages of the newspapers, such as co-teaching, service-learning projects and many others.

All this will affect the teaching of Religion in school. It cannot be otherwise, since it is fully inserted in the school environment. What repercussions could this new model have? How would school religious education change if it is based on competencies or if it is proposed within a learning environment and not as a subject?

Of course, there would be consequences in terms of organization, work or approach to the Religion curriculum itself, depending on the way in which these pedagogical models are applied.

The use of our memory, not only in learning but in life in general, is an aspect full of nuances that deserves a much broader reflection.

Javier Segura

I would like to analyze what is perhaps the most fundamental approach of the new law, which is learning by competencies. In various media, learning by competencies has been presented as the opposite of learning by rote. It should be pointed out at the outset that this dialectic is totally false. They are not opposed to each other, but should be mutually reinforcing. And in any case, the issue of the use of our memory, not only in learning but in life in general, is an aspect full of nuances that deserves a much broader reflection.

What does learning by competencies consist of? The central idea is that it is a learning process in which the child must be able to apply the contents learned in the classroom to life, in such a way that they become transformers of his or her own person. Moving from simple abstract content disconnected from life, to learning in which the student is able to apply it to his or her daily life in a natural way. The European Union proposes eight key competencies for the entire educational system, but the dynamics of learning competencies is the model to be followed in the different subjects.

Two conclusions can be drawn from this approach. The first is that it is necessary to have a certain amount of knowledge if it is to be applied to life. Intellectual contents and their memorization are not only not contrary to learning, but are necessary. The second conclusion is that learning by competencies is another way of referring to that education for life that, from the subject of Religion, we have always had as an objective. A learning that does not remain only in the concepts but that is taken to the day to day, that transforms our way of being in the world. That leads us to understand the world and interact with it with the gaze and criteria of Jesus of Nazareth.

The subject of Religion has always had the objective of educating for life.

Javier Segura

This approach, in reality, is not new. It has been the key used by the great Christian educators throughout history. They have always spoken of the need to form the intelligence, but also to educate the heart and the affections. And thus to take into account the totality of the person, also his scheme of values and how he applies them in his ordinary life.

The LOMLOE with its proposal of competent learning offers us in this aspect a pedagogical and legal support for an integral education in which we propose without fear and in a renewed way the integral formation of the person from the Christian humanism and its interaction in society according to the vision that starts from the Gospel.

A real challenge. A real opportunity.

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