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Challenging Lessons July 8, 2009

Posted by Andrew in Education.
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On Monday I was at a conference organised by The Interfaith Network. The theme was on young people and inter-faith work. It was great to hear stories of what folk are doing and to catch up with some friends.

In the workshop I ran we got to discussing RE lessons. I made the point that for some children or young people brought up in a strong faith family to be in RE lessons listening to different beliefs can be quite spiritually challenging and cause some inner-turmoil.

The point I was getting at was not that shouldn’t teach different faiths in RE but that:
a) as faith communities we need to help children and young people grow up in their faith engaging with other faiths early on, rather than introducing other faiths later on
b) RE teachers ought to be trained to help think through the impact of RE on pupils.

The response from folk in the session (including Christians, Jains, Muslims, Sikhs) was very warm, but recognised that they (including at least two members of SACREs) had never considered the spiritual impact of RE on pupils.

My experience is that learning about other faiths can really deepen ones own faith if done well. But it can be really challenging.

Given that people of other faiths are settled in the UK and that RE is here for the forseable future, helping young people grow in this context seems vital.

Youth Work in a digital world June 12, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Education, Media, Youth Work.
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I noticed an interesting article in the Times on Wednesday about the governor of California getting rid of textbooks and replacing them with digital versions. Of course his motivation is saving money.

It did make me wonder about the Bible. With the growth of the digital world and e-books will the next generation be likely to read on-line and what does that do to Bible Study and understanding

Shane HippsI need to read Shane Hipps book ‘The Hidden Power of the Electronic Media’ again but also think about the digital age. Social networking is a massive area for today’s community building. What difference might it make to learning in the future? How is involvement in the digital world affecting the way that faith develops and grows?

Faith Schools and Neutrality April 20, 2009

Posted by John Stephenson in Education.
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The 5live phone in this morning did it’s normal trick – got me cross!  The subject was faith schools and apart from  Nicky Cambell being provocative ( I know it’s his job) I found the quality of contributions mediocre.

We had the ‘I don’t want my taxes to pay for religious schools’ – because of course religious people don’t pay taxes!. We had the children are being indoctrinated comment – as if the alternative to a faith school is some sort of neutral value free education.

When are we going to wake up to the fact that the alternative to faith schools is not neutral but a set of other values altogether. The choice is between a set of values – some influenced by a faith perspective – others equally influenced by a different set of values – often unspoken secular ones. We need to be honest and open about our values – at least that’s what faith schools are doing.

I think ‘Indoctrination, Education & God’ should be compulsory reading for all in Education. At least then we’d begin to be alerted to the reality of what lies behind our approach to education.

When Christians have worked out why being involved in education is a good thing for all the students in their care, when they can articulate why the values that underpin their approach to education are not just about passing on faith but about helping all to reach their God-given potential, then the dialogue can really begin. Let’s do that and speak out firmly because to keep quiet is to ignore the needs of the young people we supposedly care so much about.