Monday, 30 March 2015

Conference Reflections [2015]: Becky

The importance of subject knowledge and lived religion

So here goes my first blog….

Yesterday was the inaugural London RE Hub Conference held at the Ismaili Centre in South Kensington. Its aim was to support RE teachers subject knowledge and give practical examples of how lived religion might be taught within in the classroom. This is certainly what it did. I have come away feeling inspired, and have been reminded of the importance of rooting all I do in the classroom in the day to day lived faith of so many believers within our local communities and around the world.

The conference also reminded me of concepts and information which took me back to my university days. However, in my 6 years of teaching I feel like I have too often just skimmed the surface of some religions. Part of me has come away feeling guilty, that I have let the busy nature of school life mean that my students haven’t had the depth of knowledge needed to truly understand the importance of faith to so many people. However despite my guilt, I have come away feeling empowered to make a change to the way I teach and always ensure my teaching is rooted in depth and challenge for my students.

It was brilliant to hear first-hand from members of the Sikh, Jewish, Buddhist and Muslim faith but also to be given practical ideas for the classroom. I was particularly inspired by the session on Sikhism with Kate Christopher and Onkardeep Singh, perhaps because I know I am about to start teaching Sikhism to my Year 7s, but also because Onkardeep Singh gave me a genuine, authentic insight into Sikhism. He spoke of the importance of seeing God as your best friend within Sikhism and the role of mindfulness within Sikh worship, something which I don’t think I had really considered within my teaching of Sikhism.

I also can’t wait to try out Kate’s idea of bringing in fairy cakes and icing them in the classroom and then giving them out for free at break time and getting students to reflect how this felt for them. This seems like such a fun and practical way for students to learn about sewa but also to discuss the value of this generous behaviour for individuals and as a part of worship.

The day also reminded me of the importance of covering the diversity of religious faith; it was an excellent networking opportunity and it rekindled my love for RE. I’ve come away wanting make sure my students have a depth of religious knowledge which is rooted in the lived faith of so many individuals and communities around the world.

Becky Shah, Lead Teacher RS Teacher in Hertfordshire @BeckyShahRE

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