RE Session One – The Purpose of RE

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Posted by Katie | Posted in Religious Education | Posted on February 3, 2014

What is RE?

Religious Education is not a part of the National Curriculum but it is a statutory requirement of the basic curriculum. Schools are known to follow the locally agreed syllabus provided by SACRE, however not all schools will follow this agreed syllabus due to them being a faith school or being part of an Academy.
Religious Education is a subject taught to children consistently in their education which starts from a young age (reception). This subject allows children to understand the beliefs and values in a range of different religions such as: Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Sikhism. It not only covers the beliefs and values, but also it supports spiritual, cultural, social and moral development.
All children have a statutory entitlement to RE within their education, however parents are able to opt their children out of the lesson if they are unhappy with the content. To prevent this from happening, teachers may bring the parents in to discuss what will be taught, show the lesson plans and discuss any issues that there may be.
The Purpose of RE
  • It provides children with the opportunity to value their own beliefs
  • It allows children to gain an awareness and understanding of the beliefs of others
  • It provides children with the knowledge of religious beliefs, traditions and practices and allow them to understand why these are important to people
  • It provides children with the opportunity to explore important questions of meaning and value

 Ninian Smart’s Seven Dimensions of Religion

When teaching RE in schools, it should include all of the below dimensions as this will provide children with a wide range of views in religion. The dimensions consist of:

  1.  The practical and ritual dimension – this focuses on the aspects of religious life, such as daily rituals
  2. The experiential and emotional dimension – this focuses on people’s experiences and feelings about God
  3. The narrative and the mythic dimension – this looks at religious stories
  4. The doctrinal and the philosophical dimension – this focuses on the basic teachings of religion and the questions of meaning
  5. The ethical and the legal dimension – this looks at the different religious laws, for example the ten commandments
  6. The social and institutional dimensions – this focuses on the meaning of the text and the celebrations of festivals but also the religious rituals into charity work and social gathering
  7. The material dimension – this looks at the objects within the religions, such as holy bibles

In my opinion, I believe that RE should be taught to all children in schools as this subject provides the children with many opportunities to understand and respect other people’s beliefs in the community. If any children have been opted out of the lesson, I would try to involve the parents to ensure that they understand what their child/children will be learning. If this is still a problem then I would offer a compromised activity which will focus on their own religion.

Activity in Today’s Session

In this session we looked at testing our subject knowledge of the six main religions through the use of the strategy ‘snowballing’ (Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and Sikhism).

Our snowballing activity consisted of:

  1. Splitting the class into six groups
  2. a-crumpled-A4-paper-and-a-snowballEach group was then given a different coloured felt tip pen and a large piece of sugar paper with a religion written in the middle
  3. Each group then had one minute to write down everything they knew about that certain religion
  4. Once the minute is complete, we then had to screw our paper up like a snowball and throw it to the next group
  5. When each group received their ‘snowball’ they needed to read what had been written, underline anything that wasn’t understood, circle anything that they thought was incorrect and then add more information if they had any
  6. This process was then repeated until the religion each group started with got back to them
  7. This information was then discussed as a whole group – this consolidated our subject knowledge

I have had one previous experience of teaching RE to a class of year 3 children, therefore throughout the rest of my training I will continue to build on this experience to gain more confidence in the subject and to build on my subject knowledge. I will incorporate the use of snowballing to experience its effectiveness as I believe it is a fantastic strategy to use when introducing a topic and also when consolidating learning of a topic. This is because it gives the teacher the knowledge of what children already know and what they may need to revisit.