Nurture, outreach and beyond: Reconceptualising Lutheran education for the contemporary Australian context


Jennings, Meryl Ann. (2009). Nurture, outreach and beyond: Reconceptualising Lutheran education for the contemporary Australian context [Thesis].
AuthorsJennings, Meryl Ann
Qualification nameDoctor of Education (EdD)

The origins and development of the Lutheran school system in Australia since the1830s were strongly influenced by the two powerful metaphors, nurture and outreach. This study investigated the ways in which these foundational metaphors have been reshaped over time in response to the changing social and educational environments as well as through the adaptations brought about by practitioner dialogue and innovation in practice. The study thus sought to develop a reconceptualisation of Lutheran education in the contemporary Australian educational context. While the two historical constructs underpinning Lutheran schooling have remained significant for the Lutheran church and its schools, the study shows how the metaphoric constructs have gradually been transformed into the additional ideas of ministry and mission, care and service. In tracing this development, the study has examined the place of Lutheran education within the Australian independent school context. On the one hand, Lutheran schools are faith-based schools which operate and teach from an underpinning Christian world view. But in addition to this commitment to the sponsoring Lutheran Church, the schools have an accountability to the wider community and public education authorities because they are in receipt of government funding. This consideration led to a review of the rationale for Lutheran schools as a valid alternative within Australian education. The study was principally documentary and philosophical in its mode of inquiry; additionally, it made use of some qualitative data provided by Lutheran school practitioners. It analysed the historical documents relating to the establishment and growth of Lutheran schools in Australia and ongoing policy on Lutheran education developed over more recent years by the Lutheran Church of Australia and its Board for Lutheran Education.;In addition, the role of Lutheran education was reinterpreted in the light of contemporary literature on public and private education, faith-based schooling, spirituality, and religious and values education. Attention was also given to the significant role of the teacher in the Lutheran school in the light of research into teacher recruitment and training. It was concluded that the traditional dominant metaphoric constructs of nurture and outreach have remained efficacious in defining Lutheran education, while at the same time a special new emphasis has been given to caring for individuals and serving the wider community/society. In arguing a legitimate place for Lutheran schooling within Australian education, the resultant reconceptualisation of Lutheran education also affirms the contribution of Lutheran and similar independent schools to a liberal democratic society. The study concludes with recommendations for future policy development, showing how normative statements about Lutheran education can be confirmed and/or adapted to address the contemporary education context in Australia.

PublisherAustralian Catholic University
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Research GroupSchool of Religious Education
Final version
Publication dates01 Jun 2009
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