This summer I spent around ten days as a visiting lecturer at Centre for Islamic Theology the University of Tübingen, located on the edge of the beautiful and mysterious Black Forest in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. The University of Tübingen, now also known as Eberhard Karls University, was founded in 1477, and has a long-standing history in the fields of theology and philosophy.
I delivered a series of lectures on classical Islamic philosophy, beginning with the definition of “wisdom” (sophia in Greek, hikma in Arabic), then exploring different key foundational philosophers up to the Grand Master of Islamic Philosopher Ibn Sina, known in the Latin West as Avicenna.
As part of the visit, I met local scholars and visited a number of historical locations around the city, including the Stiftskirche (the university church and one of the earliest to convert to Protestantism) and the Bebenhausen monastery on the outskirts of the city.It was exciting to walk around the streets that were once frequented by likes of Lessing, Holderlin, Hegel, Karl Barth, and Rudolf Bultmann! On the final day, I was able to attend a stunning performance by the university’s Philharmonic orchestra of Tchaikovsky’s Liturgy of St. John Crysostom and Mozart’s Coronation Mass. Still, it was chilling to learn from the signs outside that the concert hall used to be a gathering place for Nazi officers during the Second World War, and the city’s once thriving Jewish community no longer exist.
I would like to thank the assistant director of the centre, Professor Lejla Demiri, for inviting me, as well as all of those who made me feel very welcome as well intellectually/spiritually energised from the visit.
– Harith Ramli, Senior Lecturer in Theology and World Religions
To support the Reflective Professional Practice lecture, RE PGCE trainees were able to benefit from the expertise of Dr Chris Greenough who, prior to joining Edge Hill, was SLT lead for behaviour, pastoral and ITT in his previous role. He was able to share his own experiences about the importance of ‘relationships for learning’ and the role teachers’ play in ‘setting the weather’ in their classroom.
PGCE trainees excelled at the opportunity to explore the links between pop culture in the media and RE, creating strategy posters which showed how contemporary films, songs and TV shows can be used in the classroom to engage pupils and deliver high quality RE. They created a whole range of resources and lessons which included; Groundhog Day (Buddhist Samsara), Futurama (attitudes towards homosexuality), Million Dollar Baby (Euthanasia), Friday night dinner (Reform Judaism), The Terminator (Christian Premillenialism) and Stormzy’s Blinded by your grace (Holy Spirit). They then developed their critical evaluation skills and give formative feedback on those strategies they liked, would change or would steal.
Today trainees got the chance to visit one of our outstanding partnership schools, Cowley International College in St Helens. Led by the experienced RE team, trainees were able to reflect on the notion and importance of professionalism, benefit from the experiences of ex-Alumni and get some top tips for being professional from Principal Cameron Sheeran. They also got the chance to chat to some fabulous students who shared their experiences of RE and their thoughts on what makes a good RE lesson. A fantastic afternoon that got everyone looking forward to starting their first placement next week. Thanks Cowley!
As part of developing their confidence and presentation skills, the PGCE trainees all presented a collage which reflected either their ‘new world’, their journey or their vision for RE. Despite a very busy couple of weeks, they all really engaged with the task and as you can see, produced some fantastic work! Well done guys!
After a very hectic first week in which the new trainees have looked at everything from constructivism and the Magenta Principles to SACRE’s and the place of RE, today they enjoyed trialing some independent work to develop their understanding of religious literacy – a key concept that in recent that has gone above and beyond the RE classroom! Trainees came up with some great twitter feeds and hashtags to promote religious literacy and to demonstrate progress in their own development #soproud
In addition to visiting the Princes Road Synagogue, trainees were able to further develop their understanding of Judaism thanks to a wonderfully engaging session led by Becky Scott, one of our amazing Partnership Curriculum Mentors. In addition to building on their experiences at the Synagogue, trainees were able to look at the differences between Orthodox and Reform Judaism, the nature of Covenants in Judaism and undertook some lively discussions about antisemitism in the UK. As an experienced RE practitioner, Becky was also able to share with them some practical strategies and activities for them to use in their teaching.
The group took a trip to Liverpool as part of their ongoing subject knowledge development course to look at the differences between the Jewish and Christian places of worship.
First stop was the very grand and ornate OrthodoxJewish Synagogue. Trainees were able to hear about the history of the Jewish community in Liverpool, the features of the synagogue and the way an Orthodox synagogue would differ from the Reform. Our host was able to share with us a number of Jewish artefacts and demonstrate the significance of the Torah Scrolls in worship.
After a quick bite to eat, we moved onto the Anglican Cathedral, just down the road from the Synagogue and made from the same sandstone. After outlining the role of the Cathedral in Christian worship and the extensive outreach programmes the church runs, trainees were taken on a tour, learning all about the building and development of the Cathedral, enjoying the Whispering galley and finding the Derby Mouse.
On Thursday we ventured up the M6 to visit the Gujurat Hindu Temple and Preston Buddhist centre as part of developing our subject knowledge about the Dharmic traditions.
At the Gujurat Temple, we were able to learn about the importance of the temple in Hindu puja (worship) and the significance and stories of some of the many gods that live there. Students ejoying asking lots of questions on everything from Hindu attitudes towards homosexuality to the belief in reincarnation and karma. Some were eagle-eyed enough to spot an image of the Buddha – raising interesting questions about the links between Buddhist and Hindu belief.
It was lovely to see Pagba on our visit to the Vajravarahi Kadampa Meditation Centre. As always, he was able to offer real insight into what it means to be a practicing Buddhist and how he was drawn to Buddhism and made the choice to become a monk. Some very deep philosophical discussions about the nature of ‘the mind’ were had!