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The Composite Model...

The Composite Model is the fruit of extensive academic study by Margaret Carswell into the presentation of Scripture in Religious Education in Catholic Schools


The Composite Model came into being in 1995 in Educating into Discipleship, a Masters thesis which examined problems with the teaching of discipleship in the Guidelines for Religious Education in the Archdiocese of Melbourne. Designed specifically for formal Religious Education in Catholic Schools, the model drew from five processes already proposed, hence its naming as The Composite Model.

Following its publication in 2001 in Teaching Scripture: the Gospel of Mark, the model was adopted by many Catholic Schools in Australia who wished to address the gap between what was expected with regard to the teaching of Scripture and what was actually proposed in curriculum documents. It is still presented to undergraduate students as part of the Religious Education Course at Australian Catholic University.


Since 1995 the Composite Model process has not changed in structure. However, input from teachers using the model and further study into the presentation of Scripture in Religious Education, has enabled the role and distinctiveness of each part to be clarified.



Here is how it works…..



The Composite Model is an educational process which contains three consecutive steps.


Step 1, Prepare to Hear the Word aims to prepare both the teacher and the pupil so they are ready to work with the chosen Scripture passage.


Preparation of the teacher

Both theorists and practitioners alike recognise that those who teach Scripture best are those who both know Scripture well and who are clear about what they wish their pupils to learn. Prepare to Hear the Word, therefore, begins with the teacher extending their own knowledge of the passage and making decisions about pupils' learning.


Preparation of pupils

Just as teachers who know something about a passage teach it better, pupils who know something about a passage understand and interpret it better. At its most basic level, preparation of pupils might simply be identifying the genre of the passage for them, or the meaning of difficult words. At a more advanced level, preparation might include providing pupils with an explanation of the cultural or religious practices a passage mentions or inviting them to consider the literary features or techniques that the author uses to convey their message to their audience.




Step 2, Hear and Encounter the Word brings pupils into direct contact with the chosen passage so that they can first learn about it and, then, from it.


Pupils may Hear the Word by having it read or told to them, provided on an IWB or by being directed to it in a Bible.


Regardless of how pupils Hear the Word, a close reading of the passage is the first of the activities through which pupils encounter the many aspects which make up its whole.


Other activities focus on the characters, setting or events of a passage as well as its writing style.
Once pupils have studied the passage, they are asked to suggest both what the author was trying to convey and what it might mean for us today. Study of a passage always precedes interpretation of it.




Step 3, Respond to the Word completes the process by asking pupils ‘So what?’ This section takes pupils from the realm of education into the realm of invitation, where knowledge of the story of Christian faith transforms and informs our perception of ourselves, the world and the God who is with us. 

Pupils may respond to their study of Scripture by:
  • Extending their learning
  • bringing the passage to prayer
  • Actively doing something.
The Composite Model was designed to addresses the following theological and educational principles. 
1. Scripture should be taught and not simply used as the instrument of the curriculum topic or theme. It should be presented in a manner which does not limit its interpretation to the theme of the topic. 
2. The presentation of Scripture should enable pupils to make a valid interpretation. It should be in keeping with the principles articulated in Church documents. (See Academic Background.)
  • Passages should be presented whole
  • The genre of the passage should be identified
  • The historical and literary features of a passage should be acknowledged and respected
  • Individual authors works should be kept distinct
  • Fidelity to the passage should be of paramount importance
3. One of the aims of religious education should be to educate and skill pupils about Scripture so that they can access it themselves. Pupils should, therefore, have contact with the actual author’s words. 
4. Examination of a passage should always precede its interpretation.
5. Teachers who themselves understand the passage they are asked to teach, teach Scripture best.



A final word:


teachscripture contains examples of a range if activities. However, as teachers become familiar with the process they may choose to use activities they know or to make up their own.


Activities which explicitly ask pupils to connect the passage under study to a belief of the Church or to another source of revelation are among those provided in the Respond to the Word section under the heading 'Extending Learning'. Completion of these activities provide pupils with the opportunity to demonstrate learning at Levels 3, 4 and 5 of AT 1,(i).