Three Days in the Theatre of Learning

Having spent two days with us last year, an old friend of Edge Hill, Sue Phillips, spent three days with us to showcase her approach to experiential learning: one day with secondary Undergraduates, one day with PGCE and one day with Primary students.

Sue has developed the ‘Theatre of Learning’ pedagogy. This began with an understanding of religion neutral exercises, the most well known being the Island.  Sue then encouraged us to apply that thinking to a number of different religions, including stories as diverse as cosmology and homelessness.  Many of the activities were participatory and the students from all three cohorts were able to engage and relate to the pedagogy in a visceral way.

Feedback from the students was stunning and they are eager to implement some of these ideas on their Professional Placements in the near future.  Photos from Sue’s visit can be seen here.

Teaching A Level at Deanery

As a follow up to the inspirational day with Peter and Charlotte Vardy, Final Year Undergraduate students visited Deanery CofE High School and Sixth Form College in Wigan, to hear about the practicalities of teaching Post-16 students.  The day began with students observing a Lower Sixth Ethics lesson with Mr Michiels. He used a variety of techniques to introduce Kant’s deontological ideas including the Ricky Gervais film ‘The Invention of Lying’ and Phoebe from Friends’ attempts at performing a selfless good act.

Lesson two was an Upper Sixth Philosophy lesson with Miss Daley, where the students were working in groups to revise the topic of Miracles. They used a market place activity before finishing with a fun quiz using buzzers. Progress was measured by students’ self evaluating at the start and end of the lesson using RAG scoring, allowing them to set their own revision targets. Both upper and lower sixth were handing in essays, reminding us about the demanding workload for students and teachers in the Sixth Form.

After a cup of tea in the staff room at break, Sarah led a session on teaching and Assessing RE at KS5, giving examples of what makes a good A level lesson. Students were struck the many of the techniques and activities were just the same as lower down the school, with structured lessons using active learning, an emphasis on questioning and facilitating independent learning – simply at a higher level.

DSC_0111[1]

The morning ended with students working together to plan a short plenary for the Upper Sixth lesson on predestination which they then delivered. The undergraduates are now well prepared to plan and deliver A level classes on their final placement after Christmas, or even in their first teaching job!

DSC_0113[1]

Teaching A-level with the Vardys

We were delighted to recently welcome Charlotte and Peter Vardy to Edge Hill to spend a day with a postgraduate and third year undergraduate RE students and a small number of school based patrners, helping them think about how to teach RS to pupils in the sixth form.

DSC_0090

The day began with a discussion of the proposed changes to the GCSE and A-level content which have been proposed, followed by an introductory session considering what is truth and what this means in a post-modern age. After a break came two weighty sessions led by Charlotte Vardy explaining some tried and tested approaches to teaching the Design Argument and the  Cosmological Argument.  Students and teachers were able to improve their knowledge and understanding of the arguments, becoming more confident in their teaching.

DSC_0092

After lunch Dr Peter Vardy considered how to teach the problems of Evil and Suffering, considering the fundamental philosophical issues it raises about truth, human freedom and responsibility, before Charlotte Vardy explored Utilitarianism, considering what differentiates between mediocre teaching from excellent teaching in relation to this topic.

DSC_0098

The thought provoking day ended with a final Peter Vardy session discussing Natural Law and Sexual Ethics.  This was a mentally taxing day which was made much easier by the energy and enthusiasm of the speakers and has enabled students to be ready and confident to teach these topics during the Post 16 elements of  their teaching placements.  The school based partners were equally pleased to have been able to attend and leave having considered how to improve their teaching of A level.

“Thanks for a informative, educational day” – Glynn, teacher of A level RS in a partner school.

DSC_0093