Questioning RE

Our final year Secondary RE undergraduates are are a fantastic group of students and their three year degree has prepared them to teach high school pupils of all ages and abilities.  Recently they had chance to show off their skills when a group of pupils from Savio High School’s Bosco Unit visited Edge Hill for a morning of questioning RE.

The Edge Hill students had worked in groups to plan and prepare for three sessions each focussing on enquiring into a a big question.

The first topic was ‘Does God Exist?’ which included  a Philosophy for Children (P4C) styled activity examining an image on the board of the Auschwitz ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ sign and an Auschwitz inmates’ photo. Each pupil had to then choose a question they would ask in response to images presented, and finally (as a group) choose one of their questions to lead the enquiry. By allowing the pupils to take responsibility for this task ensured that they were engaged and made the task feel more relevant to them. By planning a task which focused on pupil led learning with an emphasis on discussing/debating ensured that behaviour was managed effectively as they had something to do at all times. This task produced excellent prior knowledge and discussions regarding the images on the board which contributed to the pupil’s opinions on the lesson focus of whether God really exists.

The second session was helping pupils to think about how people make the ‘right’ decisions, including a real dilemma for the pupils to grapple with as they began to get an understanding of Situation ethics. Pupils were able to articulate their answers and acknowledge other points of view.

Finally we looked at what it means to be religious in the 21st century, thinking about everything from Scientology to Roman Catholicism.

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The pupils were superb and engaged with the questions in a mature way, and left us looking forward to a lunch in the hub!  One of the students reflected on the morning, noting the well mannered behaviour and attitudes of all pupils present. He wondered if this was mainly down to the change of learning environment that the pupils were able to experience, which shows how this could be an effective tool in managing/helping pupils.