Report of the Ministry of Education on the course of ethics and religious culture | “Complex and sensitive” topics to be taught

Sometimes teachers have difficulty with the subjects covered in the Ethics and Religious Culture (ECR) course. Faced with content that is considered more “dangerous”, in particular religion, some have the “impression of walking on egg shells”, reveals a report made by the Ministry of Education after fixing this course.

Posted at 9:00 p.m.

Marie-Eve Morasse

Marie-Eve Morasse
The Press

At the beginning of the 2023 academic year, the ECR course will be replaced by the Culture and Québécois Citizenship course. As part of this improvement, the Ministry of Education conducted a consultation with schools and produced a report dated March 2021, but was made public only after an access to the information request.

The document raises the veil of some of the difficulties faced by teachers who have to deal with “complex and sensitive topics” in class, sometimes a “source of tension”, we read in this report, quoting of a dozen teachers while preserving their anonymity.

Among these dangerous topics is “the theme of tolerance, where the problem of racism is approached with the tension that the N-word can create …”, one teacher observed.

Another believes that talking about tolerance is “an accomplishment”. ” […] Many students and their parents are completely racist or xenophobic and this can be seen in the responses of many students… On the other hand, dealing with bullying is difficult when the aggressors and the victims are found in the classes themselves , ”He testified. in the document.

A specific “difficulty”

If the ECR program is mandatory from 1D years from primary to 5and year of secondary, the government report shows that the perspective of religious culture is very different depending on the level at which it is taught.

In elementary school, teachers considered religious culture “too abstract” for students and many considered it “not contributing to the role of the school”.

Most students who have no religious affiliation, or don’t even know they have it, are not ready to accept this knowledge.

An elementary school teacher quoted in the Quebec report

One pedagogical adviser believes for his part that the “trouble” of some teachers about teaching religious culture is “comparable to that aroused by sex education”.

Some have “very little religious culture and they don’t have the ability to do that; others have the wrong idea of ​​this ingredient; others also misunderstand it. Some have a negative personal experience related to a religion. Some are afraid of religion and even hate them, ”said the councilor.

Teachers are afraid of “hurting some sensitivities”, we also noted in the Quebec report.

“In this sense, the social and family context is a barrier for some: we fear that the school discourse on religious event confronts the family religious life; or the absence of a religious dimension of family life makes the subject obsolete ”, it reads.

An undervalued course

Among other difficulties encountered in teaching this course, secondary school teachers say there are too many students, the workload and the lack of time to teach well.

A Montreal teacher says some of her high school classmates have up to 14 groups to follow. “How do you implement, implement a program, when there are more than 450 students to follow up? Impossible, ”said the teacher.

Another considered that the lack of time spent on this course made the material “garrochee”.

Half of the secondary teachers who responded to the Ministry of Education’s question indicated that they had no initial training in ethics and religious culture.

The course in ethics and religious culture was downgraded, note the report’s authors, who reported “failure” in this regard among teachers. One teacher mentioned a “contempt” for the course, while others lamented that it was considered a “soft material”, a catch-all material which we sent all the school staff to do. their small number ”.

The new Quebec culture and citizenship course will focus on Quebec culture and citizenship, as its name suggests, as well as dialogue and critical thinking. The Ministry of Education seeks to incorporate media education and sex education ideas. The student will also be guided “to address moral problems as well as to examine cultural, moral, religious, scientific and social references”.

The Ministry of Education indicated that “a set of elements and considerations were taken into account in the process of reforming the Ethics and Religious Culture program”.

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