Contentious Issues in the RE Classroom – #REchatuk

On Monday, 5th January the next #REchatuk will take place, hosted by @fionajmoss. As I have a track record in forgetting to join in (apologies!) I thought I’d post some thoughts here in advance of the session.

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Firstly – as RE teachers we must not shy away from the controversial issues. Indeed, RE is at its very best when it is examining the controversial issues that are out there, and allowing our students to explore them in a safe environment. It can be tempting to side-step them, and focus on other things, but this really does shortchange the students, and doesn’t give them an understanding of religion in the 21st century

Secondly – some answers and opinions are wrong and should be challenged, or corrected. RE can be a subject which is viewed as having no ‘wrong answers’ (I have heard so many students tell me they can’t be wrong as they gave their opinion!). It is a very odd postmodern interpretation of the subject if it is truly the case that all views are equally valid. They are not. They might be wrong on a matter of fact, or on a matter of interpretation, or on stereotype, but we should be confident in challenging and correcting things that are wrong, even on controversial issues.

Thirdly – and crucially. Students still need to learn during the lesson, and about the issue. Teach the controversy! Don’t expect all students will have seen a news story, or have an understanding of what the issue is. To deal with controversial issues, we have to teach students to know about the issues, and understand views on them.

Finally – invite parents in to speak to you if there are concerns, so that they are clear on what is happening in the lessons, particularly around this sort of issue. However – point 2 still applies!

I hope to be involved in the discussion on Monday, and hope others can be as well. It is from 8-9pm, on #REchatuk

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2 thoughts on “Contentious Issues in the RE Classroom – #REchatuk

  1. I have to agree with what you say. As uncomfortable as some topics may be for us teachers, we should try our best to tackle them. We can prepare students for a healthy debate in the respectful confines of a classroom. If educators don’t, the danger is that these discussions will take place elsewhere and won’t be done with sensitivity or the full facts. CHIC TEACHER

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