‘People should take illegal drugs if they want to’

 ‘Reformation is the most important aim of punishment’

Controversial and contentious statements, not the easiest assertions to evaluate and guaranteed to provoke argument and debate!  In fact, debate, discussion and heated argument was our aim, as twenty year 10 GCSE high flyers and their teacher, CM, Bridget Mashiter from Ribblesdale High school came to spend the day with RE trainees on March 1st at Edge Hill University. Year 10 are exploring religious attitudes to crime and punishment as part of their GCSE studies, so RE trainees created a thought provoking programme of activities to help pupils really explore the issues in depth and to sharpen their evaluation and analysis skills.

The best aspect of a day like this is the opportunity to do something pedagogically risky and challenging, which is what trainees did with their ‘Island’ activity (thanks also to Sue Phillips for inspiration!).

Pupils worked in their thinking groups to use the principles of Islam and Christianity to design a set of laws and ethical guidelines on an imaginary island they had been ship wrecked upon. They then went on to defend and justify their decisions. After lunch, RE trainees went into role for the plenary session, which took the form of ‘Question Time’ debate. Trainees represented various religions and ethical stances defending their views on crime and punishment in the face of some fierce and perceptive questions from our Ribblesdale audience.

Pupils seemed to enjoy the day as this feedback shows:

“The entire experience was fantastic and I really enjoyed it”

“At the beginning of the day you asked us all to write down what we would like to improve on- I wrote religious quotes. At the end of the day I knew many more quotes than I’d learnt in previous lessons”

“I particularly enjoyed the island activity”

“I easily reached my aim for the day by learning arguments from more than one side and the religious views…I have gained vital knowledge on how to answer GCSE questions”

Last and by no means least, it’s gratifying to know the pupils enjoyed what the campus has to offer,

“I am thankful for the dinner because it was so nice and good!”

We like to think we can offer a good experience for body and mind.