Karl`s PC Help Forums

How do schools teach religion nowadays?
Dreamweaver - 8-12-2007 at 10:00

In light of this article here here that states "More than a quarter of adults in Britain do not know where Jesus was born, a survey has suggested.
The poll found that 27% of people were unable to identify Bethlehem as his birthplace, rising to 36% of people aged between 18 and 24.

The poll, for public theology think tank Theos, also found 27% did not know who told Mary she would have a son. "


Also in schools this year only 1 in 5 are opting to stage the traditional Christmas Story as told here


So it would seems any christian (or indeed any other ) beliefs will be taught at home and at church.


I am just curious to know how schools go about teaching what was RE in my day.


marymary100 - 8-12-2007 at 10:08

Well in my school we teach about world faiths and each year group concentrates on a different religion. For example the first years study Buddhism. We teach - "This is what Christians believe" rather than "This is what we believe".
Primary schools tend to be topic based around subjects like "The Wedding," where the teacher will look at how different faiths would celebrate a sacrament. I'm not surprised that children don't understand key concepts about Christianity as it is given no more weight than Islam or Hinduism etc.
As far as I'm concerned, if you want your children taught about a particular religion you should send your children to a faith school.
I have chosen to send my daughter to a Catholic school so that RE is taught with a Christian emphasis.


janet - 8-12-2007 at 11:29

There is no national curriculum in England for RS, RE, or any other permutation of that phrase. It's the only subject in that situation.

There are *model* syllabi - from which each area comes up with an agreed syllabus, like the one in Bristol

How it's taught differs widely from place to place and from school to school. And the schools are in a real bind - no matter what they do, a proportion of parents will be unhappy with them.

However, simply because a proportion of adults don't know something doesn't mean it wasn't taught. :} I had a whole group of 30 year olds once who claimed never to have been told that England had a civil war!


LSemmens - 8-12-2007 at 12:59

Your analysis, Mary, seems to be very balanced. I think that those questioned about where Jesus was born, would also have difficulty with the likes of Confucius, Buddha or Mohammed, too.

Our local high school has apparently banned students giving Christmas cards this year. I agree that the option for a faith based school should be availed of should you choose to bring up your child in a particular belief. I would also go so far as to say that a particular faith based school should not be forced to teach dogmas outside their own tenets unless it forms part of the core curriculum for all educational institutions.


Dreamweaver - 8-12-2007 at 17:05

So basically its a hotch potch, unless its a faith school.

But how long will faith schools last in the PC world we now live in. I mean how long before they go down the same road as private schools?


marymary100 - 8-12-2007 at 17:41

Don't you think that the duty to teach about a specific faith rests with the family?


scholar - 8-12-2007 at 18:11

Quote:
Originally posted by marymary100
Don't you think that the duty to teach about a specific faith rests with the family?
I'm of the opinion that it would be reasonable to have someone with professional training teaching according to a faith or religion. It's not unusual to have parents who follow a religion, but who do not have college-level courses in the content and history of the religion. They may know the basics well, but not know answers to questions young people might ask.

The family has the duty to see that the children get instruction in the faith (just as they should see that the child gets enough knowledge to be able to do well in life), but there is no reason they must do it all personally, without the resources of schools.

I think religious schools are the best solution. Short of that, I would like students to have a class hour in which they could get instruction from a teacher endorsed by the faith of their choice.


marymary100 - 8-12-2007 at 18:26

When I taught in America we had moral education rather than religious instruction. I found that a satisfactory solution.


Dreamweaver - 8-12-2007 at 18:41

Quote:
Originally posted by marymary100
Don't you think that the duty to teach about a specific faith rests with the family?


Yes I do, but it would get very confusing for the child while at school surely?


scholar - 8-12-2007 at 18:51

Quote:
Originally posted by marymary100
When I taught in America we had morel education.

silliness coming
That would be about mushrooms? :D:D:P:P

Presently, I think there would be great controversy outside a religious context. The historic Christian faith teaches sex between husband and wife, only. If this were taught in a public school class on morality, some parents who are in sexual relationships outside marriage, including homosexual relationships, would object. There is controversy on end-of-life issues.

I heard an interview of a reporter who has been researching how problem teachers in Chicago public schools are allowed to get jobs in other schools after accusations of child sex crimes. The Chicago school authorities refuse to warn other schools of the accusations. This does not inspire confidence in me, to trust what they would teach in morality classes.

So many public schools hand out condoms ("The students will have sex anyway, so they might as well not get pregnant."). I think there has been a retreat in morality.


marymary100 - 8-12-2007 at 18:54

It didn't cover sex of any description. It was homilies about what happened when little Jimmy stole something from Betty etc.


marymary100 - 8-12-2007 at 18:58

Quote:
Originally posted by scholar
Quote:
Originally posted by marymary100
When I taught in America we had morel education.

silliness coming
That would be about mushrooms? :D:D:P:P


Mmm. Jokes in RSE? Weren't there complaints about that already?


janet - 8-12-2007 at 19:03

Quote:
Originally posted by Dreamweaver
So basically its a hotch potch, unless its a faith school.



Um, no? Strangely enough, teachers are trained for what they do and generally fairly good at it. They make connections between subjects and ideas - a lot of is based on SMART'S DIMENSIONS OF RELIGION - which is at least a reasonable way to approach the teaching of a number of religions. Kids come out of good RE or RS teaching with a sense of what is going on and why in a number of major faiths.

The general idea in England is that the six major faiths and up to two nonreligious thought systems should be studied. Often, it ends up being less than that, but kids should come out with a good idea of what Christianity, Islam and Buddhism are about.
Quote:


But how long will faith schools last in the PC world we now live in. I mean how long before they go down the same road as private schools?


Private schools are well and alive in the English landscape, as well as others.

Whether or not we should have faith schools is a different matter - and probably matter for a different thread.


janet - 8-12-2007 at 19:03

Quote:
Originally posted by marymary100
Quote:
Originally posted by scholar
Quote:
Originally posted by marymary100
When I taught in America we had morel education.

silliness coming
That would be about mushrooms? :D:D:P:P


Mmm. Jokes in RSE? Weren't there complaints about that already?


Religion without humour would be *really* bad... :}


janet - 8-12-2007 at 19:04

On the main theme - it's not just the general populace. One thing I tend to do with university level theology students is get them to re-tell each other the story of the nativity.

Then I have them look up what the text *actually* says.

Sometimes there are some real howlers - the same is even more true for the Creation stories....


LSemmens - 9-12-2007 at 08:16

I'd like to here some of those, Janet! I've got a smile just thinking about it.


janet - 9-12-2007 at 09:42

Things such as mentions of sin and how it was all Eve's fault - that idea comes in Hebrew and then Christian theology in about the first C BC/AD - it's not there in the original.

The idea there is only one creation story...

The description of angels. Don't get me started.... Biblical, indeed most ancient depictions of angels have nothing to do with what one tends to see on Christmas cards....


LSemmens - 9-12-2007 at 12:11

I know what you mean on the angel front.

My thinking on "original sin" from my reading of the Old Testament, was it not both who sinned or is there more to it? It's not been something I've studied.

Only one creation story? Are they only referring to Biblical teaching or are they also ignoring accounts in other belief systems.


janet - 9-12-2007 at 12:47

Re the creation story - there's the long one everyone knows and within that there is a smaller, much shorter one.

Re original sin - you can get a real argument on it. From the early Hebraic view, Adam had the command, so his breaking of the command was the problem.


LSemmens - 9-12-2007 at 13:21

I think I'd enjoy your lectures. From the bits and pieces I see here, you sound as though you encourage your students to think, question their own preconceptions, and ensure that they have a solid grounding of their own beliefs at the end of it all.


janet - 9-12-2007 at 15:26

That's the idea. :)

I'm not there to support or challenge their personal faith - I'm teaching theology for a secular university.

That said, people's beliefs come into the classroom with them. :)


Badgergirl - 9-12-2007 at 19:55

We did a topic on water in year 6, most of our lessons in all the subjects were themed on water. including RE. (The water topic lead to the quote from my grandad "I can't take a pee now without marking it on that damn sheet", as we monitered water use in our houses!)

We looked at Water in different religions, and then gradually we were moved away from the "water" theme and onto what different religions were like. Not at any stage were we taught specuifically that one of them was "what we believe", although we did have nativity plays at the school and christian hymns in assembly.

It was this gentle approach that led me to sample rituals from each religion for a while. I think we were clever enough to figure out the difference between a symbolic act, and a religious belief. I enjoyed the symbolism as much as the spirituality.