The PGCE cohort visited the Quwwat Ul Islam Mosque in Preston as part of their subject knowledge development. In addition to touring the mosque and observing Friday prayers, the group also had a fantastic opportunity to speak to some Yr10 pupils from Preston Muslim Girls High School about their experiences of Islam and what their faith means to them. Thanks Waqaus for a great day as always!
Final Year Undergraduate QTS students visited Carmel College to discover how it is different to teach in a Sixth form college. We were met by Sarah Daley, who is in charge of 10:10 RE, the general RE provision for all students, and a Glenn Skelhorn, who is in charge of the A Level Philosophy and Religious Studies.
After introductions, we thought about the Art of the A level RS lesson. Sarah and Glenn reminded us that sixth form students are not that different from Key Stage 4. They explained how hey have worked on the principles of The Flopped Classroom for their A Level lessons. They try to remove the element of ‘rote learning’ from lessons in college. This learning from text books, for example, is done at home prior to the lesson. As they do Buddhism at A Level, and there was no textbook for this, the department have produced their own flipped learning booklets, which have been very successful. This means that the role of the teacher is different- they do not deliver content in class, they are challenging misconceptions and developing students’ ideas, which in some ways is a much greater challenge.
Sarah talked us through how she would plan a lesson on the three marks of existence in Buddhism. It was clear that the focus was on engaging with the material, rather than being on transmitting knowledge. She also introduced us to the idea of the Carmel Mindset, based on the Vespa material, developed from the growth mindset of Carol Dweck and others. She then explained the general RE that the college delivers as part of their 10:10 programme, which is a common feature of RC colleges.
Next up was a tour of the college.
We then went to observe some 10:10RE lessons, one with Sarah and one win NATHAN a graduate of our course. The lesson was an introduction to Human Rights, and began with a picture starter. This was followed by writing nine rights on post it notes and ordering these with a diamond 9 activity. Students then questioned what is meant be Human Rights, It was great to see Nathan and Sarah really work hard to draw out answers from even the reluctant students.
In Glenn’s Year 13 RS lesson the students were continuing with Sexual Ethics, but began with some riddles, and a starter involving incest. Students were given two minutes thinking time, were they were asked to write a justification for their moral opinion. They then shared and scrutinised their reasoning in small groups, before a whole class discussion. This discussion was ten widened to a broader discussion of sexual ethics. There was then a teaching episode ensuring students were aware of Mill’s Liberty Principle.
Sarah’s Year 12 lesson was on situation ethics, but was focussed on students developing their essay writing skills to improve their examination performance.
We then had some time to prepare a short part of a lesson, and we all got the chance to deliver to the lovely students of Carmel College.
This last week has been very busy for our undergraduate students, who have benefitted from meeting and engaging with local faith communities.
Year 2 Ethnography students are currently engaged in their own fieldwork projects, exploring a range of topics including witchcraft, perspectives on the after life in a care home, life in a convent, challenges and controversies in contemporary religion, digital ethnography, as well as engaging with Paganism, Christianity, Sikhism and Islam. The principle of the module is to allow students to go out and find out more about how living religion is experienced as part of every day life.
Year 2 Judaism students and their module tutor, Dr Chris Greenough, visited Southport and District Reform Synagogue on Wednesday 7th November. They received a very warm welcome from the team there, especially Selwyn and Anne who gave an informative talk about the Jewish way of life and particularly the differences between the Orthodox and Reform movements. On Tuesday 13th November, the same group of students visited Southport Orthodox synagogue, where they were able to consolidate their subject knowledge about Jewish worship practices and the design of a synagogue.
Year 3 students, with Maggie Webster, were welcomed by Swaminarayan Hindu temple in Preston to mark the celebration of Diwali and new year.
Today, as part of the new “Abrahamic Traditions” module, the first year students from both Secondary Religious Education + QTS and Education and Religion programmes participated in a roleplaying game reenacting different major religious groups that were current during the Second Temple period (roughly around 0 C.E.).
The students were stunningly dressed in makeshift costumes and props from the RE storage cabinets while delivering short fiery speeches summarising the teachings of Pharisees, Zealots, Gnostics and Messianic Jews, against the Powerpoint backdrop of the old Western wall of the temple. The speakers did splendidly in spite of the presence of a strange heckler.
“Roman authorities and Jewish city elders are said to have been interested in the outcome of these discussions, and rumours have it that there might be arrest warrants for some of the speakers!”
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!
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.
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!
We all enjoyed a visit to the Sri Guru Gobind Singh Gurdwara in Chorlton as part of our Sikhism development on the SKE. We were treated to a tour of the Gurdwara, lots of discussion and questions with our host, Sukhbir, before enjoying the free meal given to all visitors, the langar.
This week we launched our Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) course for all those joining us in September. Students come from across the range of RE courses; PGCE, School Direct, Undergrad QTS and for the first time, BA (Hons) Education & Religion. As you can see, they are a happy bunch and very proud of their team teaching on Islam!
ICT Guru Paul Hopkins paid a visit to the RE PGCE trainees in the final week of their course, to talk through some of the gadgets they can use in their classrooms. We forget to take photos of the session but as it was our last day together before some trainees began their new posts – we did pose for a final group shot! Best of luck to those of you starting your new posts this week!