Our objectives for this session were to consider the use of educational visits and visitors as resources to support children’s learning. The second objective was to discuss the benefits and difficulties associated with organising and running visits.
Our first task was to work in small groups to discuss; the benefits of having visitors, the issues or difficulties of having visitors and considerations when planning for a visitor. I worked with Emma Perring and our discussion about what fits into each of these categories can be seen below:
– 1st hand experience
– Engages children
– They have good subject knowledge and are classified as an ‘expert’ within their particular religion
– Bring artefacts or objects to share with the children
– Could potentially be thrown into an RE lesson just for the sake of it- this should not happen!
– It is important that they teach the children about their religion, not preach to the children or try to convert them- this is not appropriate!
– Cost effective
– Time consuming
Considerations for planning:
– What time are they going to be visiting?- will the children be engaged, distracted, bored, hungry etc.
– Prepare the children- show respect, listen carefully, save questions till the speaker has finished talking
– Talk to the visitor beforehand- ensure that they do not preach!
– Make sure there is a clear objective
– How many visitors will be visiting?
– Children to think of questions to ask beforehand
– Notify parents beforehand
After this activity we then listened to the other groups suggestions as well as contributing our own.
We then moved on to look at educational visits to a place of worship. Trips such as these have been described as a valuable educational experience and it gives them a fantastic opportunity to put the religion being studied into a religious context. Good visits are said to have the following characteristics: build positive attitudes, planned in a sensitive manner, build on work which has been prepared beforehand, they are interesting and engaging and finally they relate to the programmes of study found within the local agreed syllabus.
Below is a link to a useful website which provides a range of information about all six religions as well as suggestions to take into consideration when planning a visit to one of the places of worship. The website is also useful as it has a variety of videos of virtual tours.
An image of the website:
Our next task was an individual one, and that was to consider our own experience of an educational visit. After having to think quite hard back to my school days the majority of the trips I recalled were residential trips and they were often at the end of the school year as a reward- not for educational purposes! However, after much thought I did manage to come up with the Black Country Museum in Birmingham. I remember this was a trip I undertook in year 6 in order to learn and consolidate our knowledge of the Victorians. This trip was such a memorable experience because whilst it was educational it was also a lot of fun! I think that this is one of the reasons why many years later I can still recall details from the trip such as exploring the coal mines and trying Victorian style sweets. After thinking about this, my next thought was about how great it would be if children could also have this memorable experience and even better if it was a trip to a place of religious worship!
In our session we also looked at a useful link to browse through when planning an educational visit for RE. The first of which was a link to webpage about how to deal with parents who may object to their child’s participation:
Our next task, as a whole group was to watch a video of an educational visit to the Manchester Jewish Museum (formally a synagogue) and a visit to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. The video was very interesting and linked well to the benefits we discussed for taking children on educational visits. In my opinion, I preferred the trip to the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall I felt that this trip was more beneficial for the children and it was clear from the video how engaged the children were and how they benefited from it. However, that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t consider taking children to the Manchester Jewish Museum as I think that would be a beneficial trip for children for different reasons. The link to the video can be found below:
Our next task was to work in small groups to prepare a visit to a religious place of worship and to think carefully about what we would need to take into consideration before the trip took place, what activities we would want the children to do at the site as well as what they would learn from that and what we would expect from the children once they returned from the trip. I worked with Emma Perring and we decided on St Paul’s Cathedral in London. Our suggestions for each of these categories can be seen below:
– Pre-visit for the teacher to get an idea of the place and complete a risk assessment
– Make sure that children have a firm understanding of the religion or topic beforehand (Christianity)
– Make sure that children are aware of the high expectations of behavior that they should uphold throughout the duration of the visit
– Get the children to prepare any questions, or to think of any information they want to find out on the trip
– Gain parental consent, and pay for costs etc.
Tasks and activities during the visit:
– Explore the different chapels
– Tour of the cathedral
– Look at the art, architecture and mosaics (cross-curricular link to Art)
– Guided tour of the cathedral (cross-curricular link to history)
– Activity workshops run by the cathedral: for example design and make mosaics
– Option to meet a priest
– Reflection session held at the cathedral with a lighted candle
After the visit:
– Children to discuss what the learnt/found out at the cathedral about Christianity that they didn’t know beforehand
– Children to reflect and discuss what they have learnt
– Answer further questions that the children may have
Aims of the visit: to bring the cathedral ‘alive’ to children as a place of prayer and worship.
The big debate: what were the main points, and what were your opinions?
The link to the video is: http://www.teachersmedia.co.uk/videos/religion-in-schools.
The main points from the video were:
– Religion in schools is controversial
– Big debate: what is the place of religion in a 21st century education system?
– Faith schools: are they the way forward?
– Important that children should learn about religion: however disagree with children being labelled with their parents religion when they are to young to understand those religious beliefs
– Do all faiths have the right to attend a faith school?
– Faith schools damage social cohesion: segregating children
– Faith should come from the home, not within school
– Children at faith schools are far more likely to go on to higher education? No evidence to suggest this is the case
– RE not on the National Curriculum- makes it difficult to regulate
In my opinion, the debate on the issue of the teaching of religious education in schools was not resolved in this debate. It is a fact that there are many people out there who have their differing views about RE being taught in schools however I believe that even though RE is not a part of the National Curriculum, it is still statutory in schools and therefore should be viewed as an important subject whether or not the school is a faith school or comprehensive school. At the end of the day children should still be taught about all six religions no matter what is the personal belief of the teacher teaching RE or the beliefs of the pupils in the class.