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Answering the tricky questions in RE with Melissa Smidt

8 February 2016 | General Interest

If God is so kind and loving, why do people die of cancer? This is just one of the tricky questions students pose to high school teacher Melissa Smidt, and it’s through her online study that she has found the answers.

Studying an online Graduate Certificate in Theology at The Broken Bay Institute is opening career doors for Melissa Smidt, who teaches English, History and Religion at a New South Wales High School.

“I’ve chosen to study the Graduate Certificate in Theology because it will open more teaching opportunities for me in grades nine and ten, and with this qualification I can assist in the programming of student assessments,” Ms Smidt said.

With the knowledge gained from studying the Graduate Certificate in Theology, Melissa has been able to structure her lessons into thought-provoking classroom dialogue, often disarming defensive teenagers.

“By year ten, students are old enough to have mature conversations in my class, and having greater knowledge in theology is really useful when students ask me ‘the big questions in life’, such as: Why do bad things happen to good people? And if God is so kind and loving, why do people die of cancer?

“Often students can be very defensive in Religious Education, but they have been really receptive about the idea of authorship in the Bible, for example how multiple authors have contributed to the one text, – it made them think about the Bible in a different way,” Ms Smidt said.

The Broken Bay Institute delivers optional face-to-face seminars as an introduction to the online coursework.  Melissa said her attendance of the seminars was profoundly beneficial from an academic and a practical perspective.

“Attending a seminar really broadened my knowledge and gave me lots of fresh ideas for the classroom. It has helped me jazz up RE by teaching it differently, and in a fresh, new way.

 “I have better comprehension of theological texts now, and even though I was educated in Catholic schools I am finding I can engage my students with a different perspective

Ms Smidt said her students enjoyed varied topics and the degree equipped her with a breadth of content in RE and confidence to deliver engaging classes that were relevant to today’s young people.

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