Research on Retreats for Young People

Graham Rossiter, a recent plenary speaker at REA, sent us the following announcement:

Online availability of the Report

The Research on Retreats publication 2016 reports a study of the views of teachers and senior students about retreats in Australian Catholic secondary schools.  The Report is available for free download as a pdf file on the Retreats Research Website:-

What the research was about
The 200 page Report includes data and discussion of issues arising from 4 surveys across a sample of secondary schools in 7 Australian Catholic School Systems.  500 teachers and 1500 students contributed to the study.  A general survey looked at the scope of retreats and retreat-like activities across the secondary schools.  The survey of teachers who were involved in the conduct of retreats and the survey of senior school students showed how both teachers and students viewed the purposes and practices of retreats;  this also highlighted similarities and contrasts between their views.  A survey of teachers who were not involved in retreat work sought to find out how their views might contrast with those of their colleagues who conducted retreats.

What the results showed
In general, there was strong affirmation of the personal, spiritual and religious value of retreats on the part of both students and teachers.  The student valuations, while positive, were not as positive as those of retreat teachers.  The students? ratings of personal development related purposes/activities were higher than for specifically religious ones.  There were gender differences in student responses, and also differences according to religious affiliation (Catholic, other Christian, non-Christian and no religion) and according to whether they were in Year 12 or Year 11.

The research identified and discussed a number of issues in the conduct and organisation of retreats that would help make the Report a useful resource for the planning of retreats, as well as for the professional development of educators who are, or who might be, involved in retreat work.

Place of retreats within school religious education
The extensive research has given the teachers who conduct retreats and their students a significant voice in the ongoing discussion of the purposes and practices of Catholic school retreats.  It affirms the important place of retreats within the Catholic school?s overall religious education curriculum in helping promote the personal, spiritual and religious development of young people.  Hopefully it may inform decision making about resourcing the future of retreats in Catholic schools.

This note with the web address for the Report may be brought to the attention of any who may be interested in contemporary retreats for young people.

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