The new doctrinal framework approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in November 2007 encourages schools and programs to review their theological curriculum and serves to guide catechetical instruction. Titled Doctrinal Elements of a Curriculum Framework for the Development of Catechetical Materials for Young People of High School Age, the framework is designed to shape a four-year, eight-semester course of catechetical instruction. The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) journal, Momentum (November/December 2010), recommends four steps to evaluating and re-designing theology programs:
1. Examine the current curriculum while keeping the needs of students in mind. Look for overlap and redundancies in topics. Eliminating duplicate topics can provide more room.
2. Explain the mission or charism as it relates to curriculum. Look at where your curriculum can change to benefits students’ spiritually and academically.
3. Look at essential questions which encourage multiple answers, greater student engagement, and a various teaching techniques.
4. Consider the spiritual needs of students in 21st century challenges. Religious instruction should go outside of the classroom and be put in context of the global community.
While the new doctrinal framework provides guidelines for publishers, educators are encouraged to incorporate their school’s goals and values. The framework should open dialogue about what is essential in theological instruction for young adults.