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Good RE allows pupils to explore aspects of their own life experiences and relate those experiences to the everyday lives of faith adherents by exploring how people’s beliefs and teachings impact on their daily lives. It is not just history and theory. RE explores the lives of real people in the real world.
We all need to understand cultural and religious differences if we are to successfully live alongside one another. What better way to achieve that understanding than through a carefully created classroom environment of trust – a place where pupils know that they can share their own thoughts and opinions respectfully, listen to those of other people which may be similar or different to their own, and through debate and discussion reach educated conclusions or leave with an open mind.
In March 2011, RE was celebrated nationally across England and Wales. Celebrating RE month provided an amazing opportunity for schools and communities to showcase all that makes RE such an important subject. Thousands of pupils enjoyed the huge range of wonderful activities and events provided by schools, LAs, Church Dioceses, Libraries and local communities. Much of this is captured on the Celebrating RE website www.celebratingre.org and provides not only a record of the events but is also a rich resource of new ideas and activities. There are 60 pages of events and activities which really give a flavour of the month and hopefully will inspire teachers, advisers, faith and belief community members, museums and galleries to develop some similar activities themselves even though the month itself is over.
In preparing for the celebration, a wealth of statements about the value of RE were collected from actors, politicians, academics, people from many faith and belief perspectives and many different walks of life who gave a personal insight into why RE is an important and valuable curriculum subject. All of these can be downloaded from the website and provide another valuable resource for the classroom.
Actor, Samuel Barnett shared his thoughts about RE: “Religious Education is perhaps a misunderstood subject. It is not just about religion and who believes in what God or the different religious practices that exist today and throughout history. True, it gives us a context through which to view the history of the world and to see how it has shaped our lives and cultures today. But it is also an invaluable tool to aid in the teaching to our children a profound lesson that we continue to learn for the rest of our lives: what it is to be human. Intolerance continues to be one of the greatest dangers we face today. Without an understanding and acceptance of one another's journey through life, there can be no progress. No matter what we believe in or subscribe to, we each of us have a right to be understood and accepted for who we are. Religious education broadens our awareness of one another and encourages tolerance, understanding, inquisitiveness and consciousness. We are all spiritual beings on a human journey, and religious education can be the catalyst for our understanding and acceptance of how each of us chooses to manifest and express this journey in our lives. If we can teach children from an early age tolerance of one another's differences, from specific personal differences to religious and cultural differences on a global scale, there is great hope for a world with less conflict and pain and instead a world of open-mindedness, awareness and love; a world in which we can all be who we are without fear; a world in which "different" is celebrated.”
Check out Innovate My School's Classroom Resources directories for a range of interesting RE resources for your lessons.