ERC Classes for the New Generation
By Julie Jacques
The Coalition Avenir Quebec has recently published an online survey, the goal of which is to gather the public’s opinion about different topics that could be taught in a new, refocused, and 21st century centered Ethics and Religious Culture class.
Governmental high school graduation requirements call for either two ethics and religious culture credits or two physical education credits in Secondary five. This, a Rosemere High School ERC teacher says, is one of the reasons teens don’t get as much out of their ethics classes as they could. It causes the subject to fall to the bottom of a student’s priority list. However, there is “no possibility of the government changing these requirements. Their priority is making the course more relevant to todays’ students.”
Students “just aren’t engaging with the material, and it isn’t their fault,” she says, “You’re dealing with a textbook that is ten years old. Ten years ago, most of these kids were 5 or 6… It needs to be more current.”
Although there seems to be a general consensus that the decade-old course needs to be reviewed, not everyone agrees with the CAQ’s more specific propositions, like the removal of religion from the picture entirely.
“I do believe religion is something they should learn–you can’t teach society life and diversity in society without teaching about different religions,” the teacher exclaims, deeming the idea incredulous. She explains, however, that the ERC course is currently divided into two competencies, Ethics and Dialogue, as well as Religion and Dialogue, each weighing in at a hefty 50% of the student’s grade.
“It creates a difficulty in grading the students, especially considering the small amount of time allotted to ERC classes,” the teacher clarifies, going so far as to say that “a removal of the religion and dialogue competency would be perfectly agreeable.” Perhaps less focus on it would be better, even though,“religion is important,” she says. “I still get questions about things that they should know. For example, they should know that Jesus is not God,” the teacher conveys.
"The CAQ itself has offered several topics that could be used to take up mantle and fill the new course, like digital citizenship, eco citizenship, and sexual education."
Dawson students also expressed their thoughts about the topic: A second semester student communicated that they believe religion being taught in schools is “still crucial because it introduces children, especially ones who aren’t exposed to diversity in their home life, to different religions and helps them accept and understand others when they are inevitably faced with a multicultural environment.” Another announced that it is “a necessary preamble to society life,” although not denying an understanding of the CAQ’s secular dreams.
The CAQ itself has offered several topics that could be used to take up mantle and fill the new course, like digital citizenship, eco citizenship, and sexual education. These topics, according to the high school teacher, “are really important for students.”
“We assume that teenagers know things, but they really don’t. Last year I explained how periods worked to sixteen-year-old girls because they didn’t know! They need to be taught properly,” she declared in support of a sexual education portion of the course.
A committee will be overseeing decisions about this new course and making plans about what the new generation should be taught– take part in the survey, available until February 21, to express an opinion on this topic and certainly keep track of developments to the story.
The new curriculum is set to be announced to the public in 2022.