On 10 August, the religious education services team from the Brisbane Catholic Education Office (BCEO) returned to Singapore to conduct the Religious Education Training Programme (REAP) Workshop.
A team of six senior education officers flew from Australia to deliver the workshop, a third run in Singapore, on Saturday, 15 August at the Catholic Junior College, to an overwhelming number of 90 participants.
The participants were split into four groups that rotated over the course of the day. Music, visual arts, scripture activities, prayer strategies and drama were explored in the itinerary for the day and were aimed at providing useful resources and techniques for teachers in their instruction of young children of the faith in compelling and meaningful ways. The day’s eventful programme was closed with a blessing, followed by afternoon tea at around 3.30pm.
Participants of the workshop felt that the programme was well structured, practical and relevant and felt that they would be able to apply or even reflect on the content presented. Kathleen Ang, a teacher at CHIJ St Joseph’s Convent, appreciated that the session on music coupled “silent mindfulness with active song and dance,” and she was “thankful for the introduction of the different [material] that made understanding the liturgy easier”.
Tan Eng Lian, also a teacher at CHIJ St, Joseph’s Convent felt that the workshops on teaching scripture and prayer strategies “have broadened [my] repertoire of ways to teach religious education … [it was a] very refreshing change of teaching and sharing scripture.”
Mark Minjoot, Principal of Montfort Secondary School, also affirmed the sentiments: “The trainers and facilitators were very skilful, and each session was extremely engaging and meaningful. I strongly recommend it to anyone involved in Catholic Education. Everyone and anyone – teachers, administrators, religious will benefit from this!”
The workshop was the culmination of an itinerary that started with the Literacy Education Access Programme (LEAP), another partnership project between the BCEO and the ACCS. This pilot attachment programme saw four primary schools and six kindergartens host 10 literacy teachers from the Archdiocese of Brisbane between 12 and 14 August. During the attachment programme, the Australian Primary and Preschool educators were able to observe English lessons in both Kindergartens as well as Primary 1 and Primary 2 classes. It also gave the visiting teachers the chance to exchange ideas with the teachers, vice-principals and principals of the host schools.
One of the visiting teachers, Jo-Anne Downing, was inspired after the programme: “What has been very obvious is the passion and commitment of the teachers to the children’s wellbeing and learning. Children are recognised as unique individuals and as such are treated with love and respect. All schools [seem to] recognise and aspire to the values and qualities of their founding patron and to the Gospel values, which is evident immediately upon entering the schools.”
Evelyn Chapman, Brisbane Education Officer (Arts), was just as impressed: “My experience working with the Singaporean teachers has been profound. Commitment and alignment from all staff about their understanding of mission and values is inspiring. I will take this back to Brisbane as a challenge to all our schools and teachers to truly know, understand and act on their mission”.
Building on a budding relationship between the BCEO and the ACCS, the Australian team will be conducting up to five programmes in 2016, including a full, four-day run of REAP in November 2016. Look out for announcements on these exciting programmes in the coming months.