Experiencing Hindu Dharma

Year 1 Undergraduates recently had the privilege to go and not only see what a Hindu temple looks like, but were lucky enough as a class to witness how worship happens in the Hindu Mandir.

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Mary wrote this on her blog page:

It doesn’t matter how many books you read or how many assignments you can do on a religion like Hinduism, nothing compares to actually visually seeing what happens. I felt extremely lucky to have been given the opportunity to expand my understanding on the Hindu culture, and I feel like it has widened and developed my passion for finding out more about the religion as a whole.

As soon as we entered the Mandir we were able to be taught and have a lesson with a regular Hindu of the temple. This was brilliant because he didn’t just give us information on his religion, but he actually gave us the opportunity to share what we have learnt so far on the course. I felt like I contributed well in this discussion, and I believe it really helped me in widening my knowledge as every answer that I shared with the group he expanded on it and gave examples from his own experiences within the Hindu community. For example he shared with us that he prefers to perform puja in his home in the morning as it makes him feel ready to tackle the day ahead of him. Not only did he share his own knowledge but he also showed us how to perform Yoga worship by repeating the sacred chant oum. This was extremely interesting to see up close as it is something I have never experienced before. Although I am by no means Hindu, or in fact religious in any way, by taking part in this chant it did create an emotion I haven’t felt before. Somehow the vibration of the chant made me feel somehow connected to the religion.

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You can read more of Mary’s blog posts here

Technology Making Good RE

Technology in schools is becoming a lot more advanced as time goes on. Recently, Paul Hopkins, showed third year Undergraduate Secondary RE students an array of different types of technologies that they could use in RE, and it was fantastic!

Paul Hopkins is the leading figure in the national (and European) field of TEL and RE.  His recent publications include:

  • Burden, K; Hopkins, P; Male, T and Martin, S (2012) Project report on the use of mobile technologies,Hull University, Hull
  • Hopkins, P in Wright, A (2012) Using ICT to teach RE in Teaching RE in the secondary school, Routledge, London
  • Jackson, R. et al  (2010), Materials used in the teaching of RE in Schools in England, DCSF, London
  • Using ICT in RE(2000), Stanley Thornes, London

He is currently involved in two international research projects on using technology as a pedagogical tool.  His session focused on the different ways to use different types of technology in RE to enhance the learning experience for both pupils and teachers, and how these technologies can help with both formative and summative assessment.

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Jade and Kelly-Anne wrote this about the day:

Paul explained the concept that we as teachers should communicate, create and curate; communicating can be through the platforms of Twitter, blogging, Google Docs and Skype (if in a rural school for example). In creating we can create our own resources that can be used over and over again and can be shared with other colleagues both in our own schools and made available online so that colleagues around the country can benefit from their use and adapt to their own classes needs. Curating is collecting a rich system of education tools and making the use out of them both by teachers and students.

He showed us a number of different apps that we could use in the classroom, especially on iPads. The main two we concentrated on were Book Creator and Explain Everything. These are an extremely good way to use assessment in school, whilst keeping the pupils engaged. Paul advised us to use Book Creator for year 7 & 8, and Explain Everything for the older years in school.

We also got introduced to a website called Padlet. This allows pupils in the classroom to upload posts onto a board, which could be useful for summative assessment. It could also be used in the middle of a module to identify any areas of study that the pupils are not confident in so far, and gives you the opportunity, as the teacher to correct that.File 25-11-2015, 11 22 31 (2)

 

The last technology we got introduced to was Plickers. This was my favourite thing of the day! It involves each pupil in the class having their own piece of card which is registered to them, and involves using quizzes. It would be extremely useful for schools who do not have the resources that are needed to download the different various apps that are needed for the technologies above. I think pupils would respond really well to Plickers in school and I will definitely try it out on my final placement in January!

As someone who isn’t very ‘tech-savvy’ I found the day’s session to be insightful, educational and also fun.

I actually felt like a real teacher!

Year one Secondary RE with QTS Undergraduates had an opportunity, as part of their work on Hindu Dharma, to go into a local Primary School and get their first taste of teaching.  Feliciity wrote this in her blog:

We were introduced as ‘The teachers from Edge Hill’ today, we officially became teachers!

I don’t think I could have possibly been more nervous on the drive to the school we were going to, the awful rain and bad traffic didn’t help though. Upon arrival we signed in and got our lanyards to say who we were shown to the staff room where we gathered ourselves, prepared for our assembly and got our lesson plans finalised with our groups.

Then came the assembly on Diwali. From all the practices we had in class, I felt we were doomed from the start, oh how wrong I was! We all laughed together and performed the story of Diwali so well, I could not have been more proud of everyone, we really pulled through as a class and *hopefully* the children enjoyed our performance, especially a blue faced Shannon as Rama and a Monty Python homage from Joe as Sita.

Then came the actual teaching…

In our separate groups we were led to our classroom, where we were about to meet what can only be described as the most lovely, well behaved Year 6 children. To start with we planned a game of Hindu God themed Top Trumps, something I had enjoyed from our first lesson, and the children took to the game so well. I went round all the tables asking the children which God was their favourite and why, with some choosing those represented in our play of Diwali. 3,2,1 and they were silent, tidying up the cards back into the envelopes  to listen to the PowerPoint presentation, in turns we began to go through the slides, deviating to ask questions and add in more information. The stop at slide 7 of 14 wasn’t in the plan but if someone else in a group deviates from the plan, you go with it! With the groups they were sat in, we gave each table a body length strip of paper to draw around a nominated child to create a version of a Hindu God that they worked together to draw, name and paint. Walking round and talking to the children was such an experience:

I actually felt like a real teacher!

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The children listened and responded so well, with some taking aspects of Gods like Ganesh and Matsya to create their God. I spoke with some children about Holi Day and how Hindus throw bright colours at each other in celebration to help them be as colourful and creative as they wanted. We also spoke more of other different aspects of Hinduism as they were fascinated, I really believe they took in and actually learnt something. The plenary was the final slide and we asked the children questions on Hinduism, Samsara, Karma (which they gave us real life scenarios from their own lives to show their understanding) and Aum. Our final part of the lesson was a small video from My Life, My Religion: Hinduism by BBC2 which shows a brother and sister aged 11-14 showing a glimpse into Hinduism in a child friendly way. Of course the link on the presentation didn’t work, but what would a lesson plan be without some failings and whist it was fixed we spoke about what the childrens’ Gods would be protectors of. Thankfully YouTube gave us our video but we had to show from the beginning of the half an hour programme rather than the selected clip, but I rate this video highly as it is children explain their religion, highlighting key terms and showing it in its real life experience; my life, my religion is also available for other religions too – I highly recommend viewing.

The most valuable thing to take away from today apart from the amazing first teaching experience was how this one morning brought our Undergraduate class closer together, the next day it felt like we all knew each other that bit better, enough where we went from sitting in small groups, to sitting and laughing together.

A huge thank you to MA and Mrs JA for providing this opportunity and experience.

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You can read more of Felicity’s blog posts here

Meeting the Triratna Sangha

As part of their Module on Buddhism with Francis, Year 2 Undergraduate students tke part in two field-trips.  Here is Dominic’s thoughts about the recent visit to the Triratna Buddhist Sangha in Manchester:

Today was an insightful opportunity to learn more about a very much westernised branch of Buddhism. Our ordained Buddhist speaker began our tour by explaining about the key aspects of Triratna Buddhism and how it differs from many other Buddhist traditions. This is mainly due to the fact it has moved away from monastic, Asian traditions of clothing and not promoting the word of Dharma to people of the world. This therefore laid the foundations for my understanding of actually how far westernised Triratna Buddhism is. As you enter the Buddhist centre it is clearly apparent that opposed to just a place of worship this is a community centre which promotes spiritail along with health sessions to assist every aspect of your well being.

When speaking to the ordained Buddhist we covered various points regarding male and female communities, Triratna views on monogamy, marriage, Right Livelihood and even mental health. However one quote intrigued me greatly,

“give what you can, take what you need.”

This quote for me summed up the ethos of Buddhism and of the Triratna movement as a spirituality that wants to live a life of peace following the middle way.
We also learnt much about how the Triratna Buddhists practised Right Livelihood in a unique way compared to other Buddhist traditions. This was through opening various cafés and ethical businesses that seek to make a modest income and contribute to Post-modern Britain. Furthermore they run a lot of meditation sessions to provide social work and benefit those with mental health problems through mindfulness and loving kindness which were two key teachings of the Buddha.

To return back to the key aspects of Triratna Buddhism, it is useful to know that some members live in single sex communities in order to avoid distraction. Moreover, in terms of what attracts people to Triratna Buddhism in post-modern Britain, it is very much focused on rational questioning with a more rational attitude towards Dharma. This therefore fits more with modernity. Moreover they don’t present Dharma as a set of beliefs but infact present it as an enquiry which actually fits with the UK education system as we encourage children to question and enquire in their studies, especially in GCSE RE. Overall it encourages people to think for themselves and not just mindlessly follow as it is not a belief orientated path. The Buddha even asks us to look and see if things are true for ourselves.
Overall today was a very educational experience to learn more about a prevalent Buddhist tradition in our society. Moverover I very much look forward to carry on learning more about the Triratna tradition and Buddhism as a whole.