The Arts and Religious Education
B.Ed. 1980 St. Patrick's College
M.Ed. (Rel.) 2003 (First Class Honours) Dublin City University
Ed.D 2014, University of Exeter
Gerry O’Connell has been teaching RE to primary teacher education students (B.Ed. and P.M.E.) in MIE since 2005, following 25 years teaching at all class levels of the primary school.
Gerry's Master's thesis involved exploring Jesus the Parabler. A chapter derived from that thesis was published in ‘Nurturing Children’s Religious Imagination’ (Veritas, 2004).
His doctoral thesis concerned students’ experience of the pre-service RE course that he teaches in MIE, which has a strong focus on the inner life. It is clear from the research that the space provided by the course for inner-life work was valued by participants. Furthermore, they have signalled that it met a deep need in their lives as students. They also saw it as an essential part of their professional development.
Gerry believes that the creation of such space is also important in primary RE. In that regard, he has advocated a ‘CDS’ (Contemplation-Depth-Symbol) approach to the teaching of RE, where teachers would ensure that RE lessons would make room for contemplative space, would have space for depth of conversation or wonder and would also have space for symbol or story. In this way, Gerry believes that RE can make a positive contribution to the well-being of both pupils and teachers by allowing for space where their inner lives can be nourished, where a slowing down of the hectic pace of the modern classroom can be facilitated and where the education of the heart can be addressed.