Rome (Italy). Sr. Anna Peron, Daughter of Mary Help of Christians of the Mary Mother of the Church Preprovince (RMC), on 6 June 2020 concluded her studies at the Pontifical Faculty of the Science of Education ‘Auxilium’ of Rome with the doctoral thesis in Pedagogy and Didactics of Religion entitled, “The Religion Teacher in Italy. Historical evolution of the professional profile and guidelines for initial and in-service formation today.
The thesis is the fruit of research on the Profile of the Religion Teacher (IdR) in Italy and on their formation from the 1800s to today. The teaching of the Catholic Religion (IRC) has always been the object of attention both on the part of the State and of the Church in Italy that, with diverse responsibilities and also overcoming times of institutional critics, in the course of the years has assured the discipline of the conditions of service sufficient for an effective insertion in the Italian School.
The first part of the research is dedicated to the study of the profile of the IdR according to an historical and institutional approach, taking as a reference point the revision of the Concordat signed by the Italian Republic and the Holy See in 1984. The 4 empirical investigations on IRC conducted by the Salesian Pontifical University of Rome and collaborators are then examined, to understand how the professionalism of the IdR has been gradually perceived by the actors themselves of the IRC (teachers, parents, pupils).
The second part reports the account of an empirical survey conducted on a sample of students and teachers of the II grade of Secondary School in the territory of Rome, where the hour of religion takes on particular value for the content it transmits and for the fact that, unlike the schools of the previous grades, students choose whether or not to use the IRC.
A final part is dedicated to some formation projects already in place, mainly in Italy, and to outline some formation in-service guidelines for the IdR.
The research highlights the rapport between the perception the adolescents have regarding the competence of the Religion teachers and the experience the Teachers have of their professionalism. The questions that emerge are: What motivates the young people, especially the adolescents, to avail themselves of the IRC since it is an optional subject? What is valued in the IRC and what impact does the figure of the IdR have in choosing to make use of the discipline?
The thesis appreciates the centrality of the student on the background of the complex reality of the school as an educational place that challenges the relationship between the generations in an delicate area like that of the dialogue between the young and religion. The study of the profile of the Religion Teacher presents a teacher with the gaze of the educator who recognizes in history the religious and cultural signs that give value to human life today and who knows how to grasp in the eyes and voices of students, the existential cry that can only be heard in a few environments today. One of these environments is undoubtedly the school, where IRC has a privileged space.