By Sue Erica Smith
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Additional info for Buddhist Voices in School: How a Community Created a Buddhist Education Program for State Schools
A recently formed (2010) organisation, Religions, Ethics and Education Network Australia (REENA) has brought together religious leaders, academics and community stakeholders. It has made progress in bridging religious-ethics divides in education and presenting measured advice and commentary to these discussions, while promoting an equity and inclusive agenda. Nevertheless, Buddhism is being interpreted, taught and opinions about it are being shaped regardless of the presence of authentic voices.
It does this through fostering the development of ‘personal values and attributes such as honesty, resilience, empathy and respect for others,’ and the capacity to act with ethical integrity. (MCEETYA, pp. 8-9) 27 CHAPTER 2 These mandates inform the emerging national curriculum and as policy moves to an operational level via the curriculum, religion, ethics and values are interspersed across History, Civics and Citizenship, and ethical thinking into the crosscurricular General Capabilities. ’ Thinking processes in the new curriculum are potentially more limited than those described in Victoria where metacognitive thinking was included.
Their Asian identities were outside the mainstream and their perceived difference was felt keenly by these children. The opportunity to respond to parental requests and to offer Buddhist classes coincided with other members of the BCV being both deeply alarmed at the growing rate of youth depression, suicide and aberrant behaviours in society, and aware of borrowings from Buddhism (such as mindfulness practices) becoming accepted wellbeing strategies among health professionals and mainstream society.