(1) Is there a difference between Correspondence and Distance Education courses?
(2) Regarding Module 2 — 
Why should I pay for this Module? I know how to speak in public!
(3) Why should a Funeral Celebrant be paid an hourly rate?
(4) What is a Learning Journal and why do you prescribe one in each Module?
(5) Why isn’t it OK to practice as Funeral Celebrant without proper training (to a celebrant who started a course but then stopped because he thought he would learn on the job.


(1) Is there a difference between Correspondence and Distance Education courses?
College Diploma courses are essentially Distance Education, this is different from “correspondence’ in that a substantial part of our pedagogical method is field work in the real world of ceremonies. The most valuable learning source of all Modules is the knowledge and experience of the cooperative and professional celebrant. We assist the student link up with a professional celebrant. For some Modules you will need to connect with a celebrant who is exceptionally creative. (eg Module 5)

In most Modules the student is required to attend at least three different ceremonies by three different celebrants — but we encourage you to attend as many as you can. There is a formalised learning sturucture the student is required to follow when analysing each ceremony in depth.We define “celebrant” in the broad sense. The celebrant could be the mayor of the city who presides over a citizenship ceremony – for example. And what is particularly advantageous is to attend ceremonies in cultures other than your own. (Or sometimes see films – like Monsoon Wedding! These are sometimes very advantageous and should be written up in the Learning Journal (a requirement of each Module).

Seriously practised simulated ceremonies are also very advantageous. Detailed reports on such ceremonies, or if possible, video on a DVD are a great help to the learning and assessment process. Many of our students are already practising celebrancy. Studying / practising by means of a College Course, we hope, will greatly enhance a celebrant’s professionalism and improve their practical skills.


(2) Regarding Module 2 — Why should I pay for this Module? I know how to speak in public!
The first thing I would like to communicate is that the college does have a responsibility, when we certify that you are qualified by this module, that you really are competent in public speaking for ceremony.

Unfortunately, and please do not take this personally, our experience quite often has been that people who produce all sorts of documentation and references that they are competent public speakers, are quite often not competent at all.

I concede to you that public speaking in funeral parlours where there are established public address systems, is not as demanding as large weddings, which are quite often held outside or in difficult venues, where there are no other public address facilities. This means that the celebrant must be able to project his /her voice, judge their breathing well, and ensure that their diction is a really clear and professional.

Built into your Module 2 is a fee of $A75 to pay are really well qualified voice person to diligently assess a student of this module on the use of voice, the right level of emphasis and feeling in the reading of poetry. For weddings outside or for funerals by the graveside, one needs genuine competence in the use of the various kinds of microphones and portable PA systems. If such a qualified person professionally assesses someone like yourself we are satisfied!

Also I need to Point out that Module 2 contains a great deal of organisational and choreographic information that is basic to all three Diplomas, it is, I admit mostly geared to weddings which is the flagship ceremony of any culture, but the principles of which apply to all ceremonies.

For example


(3) Why should a Funeral Celebrant be paid an hourly rate?
What I find is that celebrants who accept the low fee, in the end, lower their standards and tailor the amount of work they do to the low fee.

I find that the hourly rate is the only fair way because I, like you, cannot half do the job. I have also found that people like you and I give funerals away because it takes too much out of them both in the preparation and recovery.

Another angle is the hourly rate gives freedom to the family to ask you to do two or three interviews with other friends and relatives. Once this is done the necessary checking processes become much longer, because one must check back final eulogy and ceremony with those whom you have quoted and those whom you have used as a source.

Most (not all!) Funeral directors are about money and not adding to their bill, but they are also about power. It took me a long time to realise this.

My eulogies can be found in my book “Ceremonies and Celebrations” but I am happy to share any of them with you or any celebrant!

Finally, I would like you to know that in the College of Celebrancy’s Funeral Diploma course we demand the high standard that you and observe!

(4) What is a Learning Journal and why do you prescribe one in each Module?
Download the pdf →  Learning Journal
When you move into your studies you will become more consicous of all the ceremonies which surround you. You need to link up the ceremonies you hear on the radio, see on the television, read about in the newspapers, or read online, with your studies.

The BBC puts out some wonderful stuff,  (Midsomer Murders has at least one Anglican Funeral per episode !) When people know you are studying the college course you will find you will have conversations  about celebrancy and ceremonies. The Learning Journal is a way of linking your studies with real life.

The Learning Journal is an ongoing assessment task; in other words, it is to be started first and submitted last. The Learning Journal/Diary provides each student with an opportunity to chart their own progress through the course. As a general guide, it should include the following:
At the beginning of your journey through this Unit, what are your expectations?
What do you hope to learn or achieve?
Do you have any fears?
Apart from the sources provided, you should seek to broaden your knowledge with other sources, for example, interviews on the radio or television, newspaper or journal articles, significant conversations and other books.
Give a brief account of the time you spent finding these sources, the places you found them and, more importantly, what you learned from them.   Libraries and the Internet are also a essential sources of information.
Some books:-
– Campbell, Joseph, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1949 (All the videotapes and books written by Campbell contain profound insights into the nature of ceremony and how an infrastructure of ceremony is necessary to civilized society).
– Mahdi, Louise Carus and Meade, Michael, Crossroads: The Quest for Contemporary Rites of Passage , Open Court Publishing, Illinois, 1996 (Excerpts from this book are provided in the texts, you may, however, find other sections interesting. There are also other books by Mahdi which contain relevant sections).
– Batten, Juliet, Celebrating the Southern Seasons, Tandem Press, Birkenhead, New Zealand, 1995.
– Mead, Margaret, Coming of Age in Samoa, William Morrow, New York, 1961.

– Grimes, Ronald L.., Deeply into the Bone, Re-inventing Rites of Passage, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2000   You may like to treat the following questions in your Journal
What difficulties, if any, did you experience with the Search Questions?
Did you find this to be a useful exercise?
What difficulties, if any, did you experience with the Field Reports?
Did you find this to be a useful exercise?
Describe your journey through this Unit. Have you experienced any moments of frustration/revelation? What aspects did you find most rewarding and/or disappointing?   Reflect upon your initial expectations. Have these been fulfilled?


(5) Why isn’t it OK to practice as Funeral Celebrant without proper training (Why not learn on the job? ).

Module 1 is just the first part of the Diploma in Funeral Celebrancy.
You then do Module 2 and then Module 4.
It is clear to me that many of the celebrants in Australia do not know what they are doing.
When a person “learns on the job” it becomes “victim based learning”.

I do not think it is fair to grieving families. A skillfully prepared funeral really assists people in grief. A second rate funeral can exacerbate grief and extend it for years.

And if people think they are “trained” with a two or three day course, they are kidding themselves. They don’t know what they don’t know.
It has another sinister effect- if entry into the profession is the result of a “cheap” and inadequate course the participators do not hold themselves or their profession in any esteem.

It pains me to see that many are not educated or transformed by a course of study which should be absorbed into their being. Transformation takes time.
And a transformative course of study should result in the attitudes, skills and knowledge which distinguish a professional celebrant from obvious amateurs and learners – (unethically) dealing with people in grief and ritualistic need.