and the School Curriculum
©1995 The Christian Institute
John Burn and Nigel McQuoid
In recent years the position of spiritual and moral education has been further strengthened in the Curriculum of Schools and Christianity is expected to play a significant part in this.
Despite the increasing secularism of society and the decline of Christian church-going, the majority of the British public still describe themselves as being Christian. By contrast, the percentage of non-Christian faith adherents given by British Social Attitudes is 3.3% of the population. (1)
The number of believing Christians active in the system as teachers, parent governors, parents and members of Parent-Teacher Associations remains significant and opportunities for Christianity to find an important place in many aspects of school life are considerable. This is true of the taught curriculum, the ethos of the school and of the many less formal times when children learn and the reasons for giving this prominence to Christianity in children's and young people's education are many.
In simple academic terms, the Judaeo-Christian tradition has had a predominant influence upon our culture. Our laws, institutions, architecture, literature, art and science have been profoundly influenced by Biblical Christianity and cannot be properly understood without a knowledge of it. Christianity is the world's largest religion. It transcends and shapes many cultures. Most of its adherents are found outside Western Europe. It is the faith that shapes the thinking and living of millions across the world.
However, beyond the merely academic, education is concerned with the transmission from one generation to another of the best that has been written and thought down the centuries. Education is also to do with developing what is inherently true about human beings. This includes the fact that human beings have consciences; a sense of right and wrong; spiritual yearnings which take them beyond themselves; a capacity to reflect on the past and to anticipate the future; a capacity to create; a need to worship; a need to explain the natural world and an ability to communicate with clarity and meaning. It is here also that the person of Christ is to be heard.
Human beings are spiritual and religious creatures. They ask and seek answers to such basic questions as:
Who or what is God?
What is right and what is wrong?
What happens when I die?
Why am I flawed?
What is the remedy?
is for these reasons and more that Parliament has decided that no
education would be complete without attending to worship, Religious
Education and the spiritual and moral dimension of education. Christians,
however, must be vigilant in this situation. They must understand
the legal framework and be prepared to be active in schools as parents,
governors and teachers to ensure that the many opportunities open
to us are fully taken.
There are some Christians who naively believe that Religious Education, worship and spiritual concerns are matters for home and church alone. There is no such thing as a neutral classroom. Schools are not value-free. We live in a world of competing world views and among these are relativism, secularism, atheistic humanism, post-modernism, new age pantheism and scientism, as well as the traditional world religions. It does matter what children learn and all Christians should be concerned about the learning of all children.
And yet, we hear that there is no such thing as Truth, only opinion - your opinion and our opinion. The supreme commitment of many sophisticated people today is to just such relativism. The fact of the matter is that once a person gives up belief in the one true living God he ends up not in believing nothing but in believing anything. Ours, ironically, is as Michael Novak argues, an age of arrogant gullibility wherein lies the supreme contradiction and absurdity of those who are 'absolutely committed to relativism'!
Biblical Christianity proclaims itself as Truth. Sadly many Christians have given up the battle for public truth and settled instead for a commitment to private truth. Christianity is true because it is true, not because we believe it to be true. For this very reason we need to argue for public truth and ethics. We need to help our young people at school examine the assumptions of the many world views which compete for their minds. Biblical Christianity is perfectly capable of standing up to such an examination. We hear much about the rights of children and young people and yet an education which fails to help them in this search for truth and virtue fails them spectacularly.
It is this positive pursuit of Biblical Christian Truth that we seek to uphold within our schools for it is in schools, second only to the family, that values and beliefs are acquired. Families and schools are not, and indeed cannot be, neutral. Undoubtedly both home and school play a significant part in shaping the views and attitudes of children and young people as they develop and mature into adulthood and the role of the school must be considered seriously.
In the overwhelming majority of schools most teachers are not committed Christians. The majority of parents of Britain, however, continue to describe themselves as being Christian and wish their children to encounter Christian values and beliefs in their schools. In this context, what is suggested in this publication is we believe both educationally justifiable and also deliverable.
What we argue for here is that Christianity should find a prominent place across the whole curriculum as schools discharge a prime responsibility to promote the spiritual, moral, cultural and social development of children and young people.
We recognise that many Christians are concerned about what they see as the demise of Christianity in schools. We trust that Christians may be both persuaded by our case and challenged to become more involved in the issues of schools.
Most churches have a number of schools on their doorstep. Christians - whether they be parents or not - have a responsibility to their community. There has been an encouraging increase in involvement in school by parents and others, not least by serving on the Governing Body of a local school, but we are not as strong as we should be. We need more Christian teachers in our schools. We need more Christian parents and Christians in the community to serve on Governing Bodies and so influence the development of schools. By asking the right questions and giving loyal service Christians can play a part in ensuring that Christianity is given the rightful place in the education of all children.
The aim of this publication therefore is to help with an understanding of the current formal standing of Spiritual and Religious Education in England and Wales and to consider together some ways in which the national aspirations might become practical realities in the publicly funded schools of our country.
The 1988 Education Reform Act, in many aspects, is one of the most significant pieces of educational legislation in our history. In terms of spiritual, moral and religious education it builds upon the 1944 Education Act. The 1944 Act had spoken of the needs of schools to contribute to the spiritual, moral, mental and physical development of young people. The 1988 Act states that the Curriculum of a maintained school will satisfy the Act:
"if it is a balanced and broadly based curriculum which promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society." (2)
There is no National Curriculum for Religious Education. Schools maintained by the Local Education Authority are to follow a Religious Education syllabus as agreed locally. Grant Maintained Schools may adopt any locally agreed syllabus but in all cases, the Education Reform Act states that any new Religious Education syllabus:
"..... shall reflect the fact that the religious traditions in Great Britain are in the main Christian whilst taking account of the teaching and practices of the other principal religions represented in Great Britain." (3)
The Act also clarifies the position with regard to the act of collective worship:
"All pupils in attendance at a maintained school shall on each school day take part in an act of collective worship." (4)
The Act makes it clear that collective worship may be either one daily single act for the whole school or separate acts for parts of the school. This allows for separate Year Group, House Group and Tutor Group acts of worship. The Act, however, states that the collective worship provided must be "wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian character". (5)
The Act goes on to clarify that the act of collective worship will satisfy if it reflects the broad traditions of Christian belief without being distinctive of any particular Christian denomination. (6)
The regular inspection of schools by the Office for Standards in Education (OfSTED) reports on Religious Education, the act of collective worship and the spiritual, moral, cultural and social dimension of the school. There is no doubt that as a result of these reports those schools which are deficient in terms of worship and Religious Education are taking steps to rectify the position. In church schools, Religious Education and worship are reported on by separately appointed bodies and yet similar adherence is expected to the rulings of the Act.
Nevertheless, there has been much concern about thematic and content-free locally agreed syllabi for Religious Education and so The School Curriculum Assessment Authority (SCAA) in 1994 published national model syllabi. They are advisory only and are offered to the local bodies which draw up syllabi in this spirit. They are a great advance insofar as they specify, in a systematic way, clear content for Christianity and other faiths.
It is clearly important that children should learn systematically about the truth claims of Christianity and all other major faiths. It is also important for them to recognise, in a spirit of tolerant understanding, that many of these truth claims are mutually exclusive. What is unsatisfactory and to be deplored is SCAA's preference that by the end of Key Stage 2 (11+) three faiths in addition to Christianity should normally be studied. This is educationally very unsound and leads to confusion and misunderstanding and is almost impossible to implement.
It is sometimes suggested that the concern for the prominence of Christianity in education in Britain is out of line with the rest of Europe. It has recently been shown that all European Countries, with the exception of France, have Christian Religious Education in their publicly funded schools. Almost always it is taught from the point of view of truth in a confessional way and Non-Christian faiths, if taught at all, are not taught until the secondary years of education. (7)
As in the case of Religious Education and worship, the law also has clear statements to make about Sex Education and this extends to what must be taught to sixth formers in schools although it does not include students at colleges and tertiary colleges.
For the past ten years Sex Education in secondary schools has been the norm. It has been most often taught through Religious Education, Science, Physical Education and Personal and Social Education.
The 1986 Education (No. 2) Act required Governing Bodies of schools to draw up a Sex Education policy and this Act requires that Sex Education be delivered in such a way "as to encourage those pupils to have due regard to moral considerations and the value of family life". (8)
This requirement remains in force. In 1987 the Department for Education and Science issued further guidance to schools:
"Pupils should be encouraged to consider the importance of self-restraint, dignity and respect for themselves and others, and helped to recognise the physical, emotional and moral risks of casual and promiscuous sexual behaviour. Pupils should be helped to appreciate the benefits of stable married and family life and the responsibilities of parenthood." (9)
In addition, under the 1986 Local Government Act, local authorities are not to promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship. (10)
A difficulty regarding the Science National Curriculum and Sex Education was dealt with in the 1993 Education Act. The Act makes the distinction between Science lessons dealing with human reproduction and other sex education. As a result, teaching on the following is specifically excluded from the Science National Curriculum:
AIDS and HIV
Any other sexually transmitted disease
Aspects of human sexual behaviour other than biological aspects. (11)
The Act gave back responsibility for other types of sex education to the Governing Bodies and, for the first time, required secondary schools to provide Sex Education, in addition to that given in National Curriculum Science. This directive now demands that such education must include information about (a) AIDS, HIV and (b) other sexually transmitted diseases. (12)
Parents have a right to withdraw their children from every aspect of the school's Sex Education programme except those biological aspects of human sexual behaviour and reproduction which remain part of the statutory Science National Curriculum. Primary schools are not required to teach Sex Education.
In Britain the Christian churches were active in the field of schooling long before the state took over. In the 19th century two national Christian bodies, the National Society and the British and Foreign Bible Society, were responsible for almost all elementary education. They were concerned that boys and girls be numerate and literate and have a sound basis in moral and religious education.
In retrospect it is a matter of regret that the churches so readily relinquished control of education to the state and that, for example, the Church of England in many parts of the country withdrew from direct involvement in secondary education after 1945.
Biblical Christianity has a doctrine for the whole person and thus a deep concern for education. It declares that man is a worshipping creature because God has placed Eternity in his heart (Ecclesiastes 3 v 11). It is categorical in its conviction that man is made in God's image and thus reflects His Creator. It follows from this that human beings have the capacity to know right from wrong; to create in word, music and a variety of media; to communicate with clarity and meaning; to experience awe and wonder and ascribe meaning to existence; and to seek meaningful and sustaining relationships.
Biblical Christianity asserts that God created everything out of nothing, that He created human history, intervenes in human history and will bring human history to an end in judgement and the creation of a new earth and new heaven from which all that is evil will be excluded.
Biblical Christianity also points to the essential flaw in all human beings, namely that they have an inherent tendency to sin and thus God's image in them is marred. This flawedness cannot be dealt with by human effort or good works. It can only be dealt with by God's intervention in history through the birth, life, death, resurrection and exaltation of Jesus Christ and in the personal faith and new birth of the believer.
Education alone cannot deal with the disastrous result of man's first fall from his original and perfect creation. It has a part to play in the restraint of evil and the affirmation of good and it has a major role in affirming what is true about human beings and devising a curriculum which reflects that truth. However, it can help draw a person out further in their understanding of God and his or her position before Him. From what we have already said many subjects are important contributors to this whole view of the person. These clearly include Science, Geography, History, Mathematics, English and Languages, Technology and Design, Art, Music, Drama, Religious and Moral Education and opportunities for worship and herein lies the crux of how Christian Truth permeates all knowledge.
Science and Geography may speak of the glory and wonder of God's creative activities. History can be seen not as a cycle of meaningless events but as a story in which God speaks and acts. Mathematics provides opportunities to appreciate pattern, symmetry, order and the excitement of relationships as well as developing a sense of accurate communication through number. Design Technology, Literature, Poetry, Art, Pottery, Music, Drama and Physical Education give opportunities to develop the creative potential of young people. Religious Education gives opportunity to understand the basic nature of human beings and their need for significance and salvation. Worship, at the heart of human nature, gives opportunities for young people to be involved as worship is offered to the true and living God.
Christian Truth must play a vital part in all of these matters because left to themselves they will be distorted and drained of meaning. Christianity and Biblical Truth must find a place across the whole curriculum and not just be confined to the act of worship and Religious Education. This is more important than ever before so that we may arrest the drift into cultural relativism and subjectivism.
"Seizing the Day": Some Ways to Grasp our Opportunity
It is clear, therefore, that the opportunity for Christianity to play a central role in the development of school children in England and Wales is there to be grasped. For many, including Christian parents committed to seeing their children defended in Biblical terms against a hostile age, the extent of this opportunity comes as a surprise. Nevertheless, there exists a degree of hesitancy within many who want to embrace both the spirit and letter of the law as they move towards the practical outworkings of this opportunity, rightly sensitive as of course we should all be that dogmatism, intolerance and manipulation can have no place in effective Christian Education.
This hesitancy is a natural reaction within those who seek to recognise Christian Education as being broader than simply the content of a Religious Education lesson and an assembly. For those who see Christian Truth as pervading all aspects of life, there will be a natural tendency to see this Truth expressed throughout the various aspects of school life. Given the legal emphasis that all subjects have a role in furthering the spiritual development of young people, the door seems wide open. Yet, since the free-thinking of the 1960's and the subsequent drive towards 'discovery education' and relativist morality, much of the modern approach to education is coloured by a context which is hostile to the presentation of absolute values.
Crucially, therefore, the four areas of practical advice which follow must be seen within a renewed context of Christian confidence which is often lost at best and actively undermined and misrepresented at worst. The context of true education, as its Latin root suggests (13), is that it leads young people to find a way forward in life for themselves equipped with both the ability to properly question theories and assumptions and the support of wise counsel and direction. The transmission of academic fact has never been more than the means to this end, even though academic qualification has become the economic currency of man's development in a materialistic world. Education is not about indoctrination nor is it about driving young minds into attitudes which have not been thought through. Man's true education is surely more to do with coming to a sense of identity, purpose, worth, direction and future. (14) The search for Truth is more than simply the search for what the examiner marks as being correct.
The thoughts below are, therefore, not to be seen as single elements which, when added together, achieve the goal of presenting Christian Truth. Rather they are vehicles which, when delivered across both the defined and hidden curricula and within an environment of respect, gentleness, integrity, honesty and value, can help to achieve what we believe the Education Acts truly seek - namely an education which offers young people a route to physical, moral, mental and spiritual completeness.
(a) Collective Worship
The recognition that we ourselves are spiritual beings cannot be taken for granted in a society where the immediate, the material and the self are the real value-drivers of the age. To imagine that young people, and staff, naturally take time in a day to reflect on spiritual reality is unrealistic and so the law provides for every school child to have the opportunity to pause each and every day to consider such matters. As such, the 'Act of Worship' is therefore an opportunity and not a ritual. No-one can be forced to worship but everyone can observe and be given time and space to truly participate if they so wish. The physical acts of singing, reading or listening, do not constitute 'worship' in themselves. It is crucially different to approach this time as one in which thoughts are expressed and the opportunity given for genuine and unrushed spiritual exercise and response.
Given this focus, a hymn, Bible reading, brief "Thought for the Day" based on the reading and a short prayer can be both an 'Act of Worship' for the leader and an opportunity for worship for everyone else. With all due respect the same can hardly be said for the exhortation to deposit crisps packets in bins or an analysis of the nuclear threat! Perhaps more fundamentally, the provision of 'opportunity, time and space' to worship in whatever way young people feel able is vital and the use of a short period of quietness in the Assembly is of great importance and is generally greatly underused.
Of course many schools lament either the lack of committed leaders and/or the lack of appropriate space as the prime stumbling blocks for daily collective worship. It may well be that few schools can house their entire pupil population in one room but, as schools are invariably also organised in smaller units (Houses, Year Groups, Forms or Tutor Groups, Class Groups) and, working on the principle of 'collective' meaning 'a group coming together' as opposed to the whole school, it should be possible logistically to provide a morning or afternoon "Thought Together" for everyone, every day, somewhere.
Leadership of such a time then becomes more a matter of appropriate resources than of leadership gift, especially if the cornerstone principle of spiritual development is contemplation rather than the charisma of a preacher. For the uncommitted teacher, therefore, the simple handling of a basic Bible text along given guidelines followed by a concluding time of silent prayer becomes a manageable and valuable 10 or 15 minutes at any time of the day. Granted, the teacher's desire to ensure that these "Thoughts Together" are effective is important and yet any school prepared to be honest and honourable in opening a Bible passage for non-threatening debate should be encouraged to tackle the task positively as an opportunity for development. Given that certain staff may be antagonistic or apathetic, appropriate local clergy and/or lay people may well be prepared to offer themselves for certain such duties under the school's direction.
Appendix One outlines the first few weeks of a Five Year Scheme designed to take young people through the key passages of the Bible based on two 15 minute sessions each week from Years 7-11. This is a Scheme with which we are familiar and we offer it as an example of what may be possible in the context of Tutor Group Prayers.
(b) Spiritual and Moral Development
Assuming that the previous thoughts have set a context in which Christianity is seen as something to be presented for discussion, thought and reflection rather than a weapon of dogma, such delivery should thrive within any school which values openness and analysis and should freely permeate all aspects of school life. Any school which pumps propaganda demanding acceptance without thought or question, is not worthy of the name and, if education is about honest searching and honourable counsel, then a school which is fixated with academic honours alone is its own prisoner. If we want to incarcerate our young people's minds within the four walls of "read it, write it, learn it, and put it down on the examination paper", then we should allow only the Religious Education and/or Personal and Social Education teacher to speak of the spiritual or the moral.
The search for Truth can be no respecter of subjects. A child's eye for the difficult question, the loophole and the non-sequitur will probe, regardless of subject, in the search for an explanation or expansion.
Knowledge is dry and rarefied if it has no context in ordinary life and experience. And so, dear English teacher, when you are reading Macbeth with Year 10, why avoid mentioning the relevance and dangers of the occult in modern times? And, Mr. Technologist, are you really presenting to young people the message that technological ingenuity is the 'be-all-and-end-all'? Is the Booby Trap Bomb really as 'good' an invention as the Artificial Heart?
One thing is certain: there is no such thing as a neutral school or a neutral classroom when it comes to spiritual or moral position. To even seek to be neutral is to make a value judgement and, as with a vacuum, the classroom will always find itself filled with some view or other. Predominantly today, society is fed on its own hunger for self, subjectivity, relativism and peace through an ignored conscience. "If it is all right for you and it doesn't hurt anyone else, then do it" is the prevailing, pervading and profoundly anti-Christian view of this Age. Unless this is countered by a positive Christian viewpoint delivered across and beyond the taught curriculum, these are the views that will seep into our young people. They already absorb this message from their magazines and TV screens. Are we to stand back and watch the very same absorbed in our classrooms?
Therefore, is it not possible to consider the following as being natural ways in which the search for Truth can, and should, be progressed in the taught curriculum? And, by seeing the spiritual dimension of each, is it not possible to see the opportunity for proper Christian input? The following are not prescriptive but are offered as examples:
- The study of English promotes logical thought and clarity of communication. The power of words can make us laugh and cry. It can build up and it can destroy. Its study can help pupils to reflect on the purpose of life. Exposure to good literature helps in an appreciation and an understanding of culture, society and morality.
- Technology, Music, Drama and Art, with their emphasis on design, creativity and making, develop the creative capacity of young people. Of course, we can create what is good and beautiful and positive or we can create the opposite.
- Physical Education with its particular focus on health and physical development promotes the linkage between body, mind and spirit. It allows the exploration of moral issues to do with competition, winning, losing and team spirit.
- Business Education promotes the human need to find fulfilment in work and allows discussion of the ethical issues involved in creating and distributing wealth.
- Mathematics develops a sense of awe and wonder. It is a means of understanding reality and assisting in the human search for unity and simplicity and order. It appeals to our rationale and to our desire to tend towards order and pattern rather than chaos and accident.
Science can also engender a sense of awe and wonder. It can encourage speculation and the discipline of rigorous testing. Science provides an opportunity for investigation by rigorous and repeatable experiment and movement from hypothesis to theory. True science education aims to distance itself from scientism and to explain the difference between the two. It promotes creaturely humility in the face of awesome creation.
The creative application of Information Technology gives an ability to develop orderly, logical and rational communication and allows consideration of important ethical issues.
The study of Modern Foreign Languages develops a capacity to listen, speak, write and think with rationality and clarity and in later years introduces ideas and World Views from other cultures. By opening up awareness of the other peoples of the earth, it challenges our ego.
- Geography gives opportunity to examine the relationship between man and his environment and to consider ethical issues such as ecology, population growth and pollution. In its geology and meteorology it opens up the mighty powers of our ordered world systems.
- History illuminates the human capacity to reflect on and interpret events. It can also consider the relationship between a person's belief and value system on the one hand and their resultant behaviour and effect on society. It also affords the opportunity to contemplate time and eternity.
- Religious Education gives an opportunity to explore the ultimate questions of life. It also helps to illuminate the relationship between faith, morality, custom and rite. It is also an opportunity to examine the competing truth claims of a variety of World Views.
- Learning or Remedial Support expresses the value of the individual and the importance of integration within society. Pupils are recognised as having certain strengths and weaknesses but as having a place in society whereby mutual understanding and acceptance is promoted and help and cooperation fostered. It also helps to see that isolation, stigmatism and persecution need not exist.
In the selection of just four subject areas, perhaps expansion of these principles may be helpful:
It is important that the Science teacher constantly distinguishes science from scientism.
Science is a humble and persistent search for appropriate models to explain reality. It proceeds by repeated careful observation, measurement and experiment. It deals with hypothesis and theory and is prepared to modify and occasionally abandon established theories and models.
The process of science can involve creativity and imagination and gives opportunity to experience a sense of wonder and awe.
The teacher should not shy away from talking about awe and wonder, creation and design in a natural way at appropriate times. The teacher should be equipped to demonstrate that the philosophy of scientism, with the belief in the view that questions which are not susceptible to scientific enquiry cannot be answered or are not worth asking, is a faith position.
There are those who argue that Science and Christianity can be harmoniously reconciled and that no significant tension remains. We cannot subscribe to this view. It seems to us that attempts to reconcile evolutionary theory with the Biblical account of creation strain and distort scripture and that they introduce a symbolic reading of Genesis which cannot logically deny the symbolic reading of the Virgin Birth, physical Resurrection of Christ or the Second Coming.
Clearly schools are required to teach evolutionary theory. We agree that they should teach evolution as a theory and faith position. Again it is important to distinguish between evolutionary theory and the faith position of evolutionism. Clearly also schools should teach the creation theory as literally depicted in Genesis. This too is a faith position of which young people should be aware.
We believe that schools, in the interest of a true education, should help young people see the issues and the evidence base for the Creation/Evolution debate. We do not believe that Evolution is an unimportant side issue. Nor is the tension between science and religion.
Young people must also be helped to understand that science cannot deal directly with the past. Scientists cannot go back in time to directly examine the animals and rocks of long ago. They cannot observe the past or test it and young people should be made aware that whilst the majority of the scientific community hold to evolutionary theory some atheistic scientists cast significant doubt upon it. Both Creation and Evolution provide ways of explaining the past that are beyond direct scientific examination and verification. Ultimately, both Creation and Evolution, are faith positions.
We believe that the science teacher should provide opportunities to demonstrate this.
Above all other mainstream curriculum subjects, the study of literature arguably offers teachers the greatest scope for examining human motivation and vision. The urge to write is born of the desire to express opinions and views as well as often to persuade, woo and convert.
In the hands of a skilled teacher, the spiritual and moral tone of this study can be powerful - for evil as well as for the good. As so much of life is about the searches for identity, purpose, fulfilment and future, so literature also presents all manner of insight into such quests.
And yet, to leave the poems, novels, and plays to speak for themselves without comment has become a cherished pillar of the post-modernist strain in much English teaching. This strain insists that works themselves communicate truth to the reader at whatever level he or she is able to perceive it - without critical analysis of anything other than stylistics. On the contrary, surely it must be the educator's job to speak of authorial intent, background and philosophy so that children can learn to question assumptions and messages for themselves.
All too often Literature teachers are deeply persuaded of, and enjoying teaching, the evil of political incorrectness, bias and stereotyping in studying advertising and peer pressure and yet they encourage all manner of propaganda about the way the world is by the uncritical acceptance of text. We are aware of children's books being advocated which present as normal the bringing up of children by a homosexual father and his male partner and yet there are many less 'colourful' examples where blasphemy and bad language is absorbed, pursuit of ego and position is applauded and rewarded, and any notion of God, if any words are given to discuss Him at all, is consigned to the superstitious and the irrelevant.
Consider, however, the potential for constructive spiritual and moral teaching through Shakespeare (Sight and Blindness; Repentance and Hope in 'King Lear' or Justice and Mercy in 'The Merchant of Venice'), Dickens (the Love of Money and the Father Figure in 'Oliver Twist'), Owen (The Value of Life; Honour in War in 'Dulce et Decorum Est') or Hines (Life without Love in 'A Kestrel for a Knave').
However one develops such themes, the starting point must be to strip away the mystique and unquestioned power of any writer. Too many readers believe from too early an age that, because it is printed in a book, it must be true. Our Literature teachers must be in the business of teaching children to question and challenge and, as a result to demand of literature a quality of message that is honourable, respectable and worthy of good report.
Given this richness of opportunity for positive Literature teaching by Christians, it is sad to note that there seem so few English teachers in our schools who are committed to Biblical Christianity.
Studying historical events in isolation is hardly to study History because it is in the linkages between characters, periods, political movements and the like that the panoply of 'History' is drawn.
The question, therefore, is always there to be asked "Is History the haphazard collision of individual moments, clung together by the strugglings of man and his attempts to control and shape his destiny? Or is it the unfolding of a story which operates within providential limits, overseen by a greater power and moving towards climax and the creation of a new Heaven and a new Earth?" In this debate, the existence of a battle between good and evil readily appears as can the vision of God, the Creator, the Sustainer and the Judge.
Consider this possible "way in":
During the Second World War, Christian clergy on both German and Allied sides were involved in the 'blessing' of weapons, armaments and troops. So whose prayers was God going to answer with a "Yes"? Or were all their prayers irrelevant and ineffective? Was there no God there at all? Or had He already made up His mind who was going to "win"?
So then, how would the following theory stand up?
"It is God who ultimately calls an end to rampant evil and the regimes which it embraces before such evil can truly dominate the world. Although man has freedom to go so far, History suggests that God is prepared to intervene at the chosen moment for it is He who holds the 'Final Card'." (See Gamaliel's advice to the Sanhedrin: Acts 5v38-39)
Thoughts could extend into the study of the moral and spiritual character of many historical developments (e.g. the YMCA, the Red Cross, the Reformation, the Pilgrim Fathers) and personalities (Wilberforce, Livingstone, Barnardo) but suffice to say, there lies at the heart of History a series of issues upon which every pupil must be given opportunity to reflect.
Let us consider a short unit of work on 'The Fibonacci Sequence'
We begin with a pair of numbers, say 1 and 1, and add them together to obtain 2. Add the second 1 to 2 to obtain 3. Add 2 to 3 and we get 5. Continue, always adding the last two numbers together, and the following sequence is generated:
1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, ...
And so we could go on ad infinitum. These numbers are known as the Fibonacci sequence. Now divide every number by the one immediately preceding it in the sequence, and the following ratios are obtained:
1, 2, 1.5, 1.667, 1.6, 1.625, 1.615, 1.619, 1.618, 1.618, ...
It is clear that these ratios are moving towards a certain fixed value and this eventually works out as 1.618034, correct to six decimal places. What is remarkable about all this, we might wonder? The fact that the ratio converges towards a fixed number is not unusual in and of itself, as any mathematician will tell you. Many series of numbers exhibit this property. But what is astonishing is the frequency with which this value crops up, in a whole range of areas apparently unrelated to Mathematics. On account of this it has often been called the 'Golden Ratio', or by Johannes Kepler, 'the Divine Proportion'.
This Ratio has always held a particular aesthetic appeal to the human eye. A 'Golden Rectangle', in which the ratio of the length to the breath is equal to the 'Golden Ratio', has a mysterious beauty and elegance that is difficult to explain. When children are asked to draw a rectangle of their own choice, they will nearly always draw one which features this famous Ratio, or a ratio close to it. Other rectangles are 'too long' or 'too square'. (A study of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and of the Parthenon reveal that the 'Golden Ratio'' is very evident within their proportions. Perhaps this is the well hidden secret of the Mona Lisa?)
Furthermore, the 'Golden Ratio' and the original sequence emerge in unexpected places within the world of animal and plant life. For example, take something which may, at first sight, appear to be purely random; the number of petals on different flowers. The Corn Marigold, Mayweed and Ragwort have 13 petals; the Chicory, Aster and Helenium, Michaelmas Daisy have 55. But isn't this just all coincidental?
At other times the Fibonacci numbers and their ratios appear in a subtler form, often as spirals.
If a Golden Rectangle is cut to make a square, the remaining shape left over will always be another Golden Rectangle. This process may be repeated ad infinitum and if this process is developed using pen rather than scissors, and if a circular arc is inscribed in each of the squares from corner to corner, a spiral is drawn as shown in the diagram above. It is this precise spiral shape that can be seen in the shells of many snails and a wide variety of marine animals.
Other areas where the Fibonacci numbers can be seen include the population patterns of rabbits, the genealogy of bees, and even quantum mechanics. They are also manifested in music, not least in the pattern of an octave. We have only scratched the surface, but it should be increasingly intriguing that an apparently simple, some would argue self-generated, number pattern appears to have a place within a much more profound world of pattern. How has this come to be?
This is an example of how Mathematics can model the order and pattern in Nature. The Bible says, "For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made...." (Romans 1:20)
There are enormous opportunities for Mathematics teachers. 'Nature' speaks of a creator and designer. The creation is not random and chaotic but ordered and patterned.
Surely subject specialists can see even more opportunities to develop Christian perspectives in their own area. The spiritual and moral dimensions, if they truly are integral within our very existence, must be recognised and developed far beyond the 'National Curriculum'!
Those schools genuinely seeking to support a Christian ethos must follow Christ's own perfect example of valuing every individual as equal in the sight of God. They must give clear guidelines and implement them with proper justice and mercy, speaking honestly, honourably and without hypocrisy and meeting people where they are, at their point of need, and pointing them towards their true potential.
In this light, our schools should be encouraging places. They must be places where right is known and wrong is never tolerated; where staff and pupils speak to each other with respect and without ego and where affirmation and reward are honourably administered; where privacy is respected and accountability expected and where the advance of the individual towards his or her highest possible achievement will always win over the legalistic restraint or politically correct dogma.
It will be in such a school and in the example of such a teacher, Governor or Headteacher, that genuine spiritual and moral development will be given its chance and it is in the example of Christ that the ultimate role-model can be seen. To seek such development through the synthesis of multi-faith teaching and the promotion of the "self-discovery" of non-directive relativism is to leave the ship without its rudder.
(c) Sex and Health Education
When one begins to look at certain issues which exist beyond the simple briefs of any single curriculum area, one often thinks first of Sex and Health Education. Although it naturally leads to a degree of embarrassment, and although sensitivity must always be a key principle within its delivery, the Christian perspective on young people's attitudes towards Sex and Health is again encouraged both within the letter and the spirit of existing law.
And this law's vision to present Sex Education in such a way that due regard is given to moral considerations and to the value of family life is wholly consistent with the stance that the Bible would adopt on matters of sexual activity.
However it is not appropriate to simply consign this subject to the Science Department or to the Religious Education Department for, in the former case, to treat sex as a purely physical activity is to rob it of its emotional and spiritual dimension, whilst to present it on the other hand as a moral issue alone can be equally lopsided. The true Biblical picture of sex is that it is not only a pleasure created by God but, as in keeping with many other situations of life, it can only thrive within an appropriate context where commitment, faithfulness and purity are held in the highest regard.
It would seem best therefore that both of these Departments share a role in presenting young people with a positive and full picture of the beauties and the difficulties, the potentials and the dangers, of sexual activity. It is also important to bear in mind that if this subject is treated with undue embarrassment and is presented in some way as a taboo subject, then it is likely that the entire issue will be treated with a lack of respect and a lack of seriousness which result in a lack of understanding for young people. The very thing which a Sex Education Policy should be designed to avoid is exactly what such an approach will achieve, namely ignorance and the deep hurts that follow.
In drawing up a Sex Education Policy a school must also address the issue of contraception and to what extent it is prepared to risk the accusation that young people may bring that they were never told how to avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
It is in these regards that the following suggestions are made in how to deliver a Sex Education Policy to young people around the age of fourteen.
As part of the National Curriculum, Reproduction must be covered in Science lessons and it is clearly appropriate to indicate to young people how a new life is conceived in that there are human mechanisms which allow the sperm to meet the egg whereupon fertilisation occurs and a life begins and develops. This aspect might simply be described as Natural Fertility. It is then surely natural to explore Natural Infertility whereby the various physical reasons why an egg and sperm cannot meet are taught. This section would include issues such as blocked fallopian tubes, low sperm count and the inability for a fertilised egg to bed into the lining of the womb.
From there, young people can study how medical intervention can create Artificial Fertility in that these difficulties preventing Natural Fertility can be circumvented either by surgery, or by drug therapy, to "artificially" enable a pregnancy to occur and to develop through to its full term. Finally therefore, one can approach the issue of Artificial Infertility where, given the directives both from the Law and from within the Bible that sexual activity is to be seen within a family context, a man and his wife may wish to enjoy the pleasures of physical union whilst artificially preventing a child from being conceived. The use of contraception within marriage can be controversial but explanations can be explored such as a married couple wishing to delay a pregnancy for financial or social reasons or even for hereditary reasons relating to family illness.
Having established earlier the simple method whereby a sperm can meet an egg, it is relatively straightforward to describe how a barrier between this meeting can prevent a pregnancy. It is not necessary for the teacher to actually have contraceptive devices in the classroom or to show how they are used. It should suffice for diagrams and photographs, appropriately taken, to show what these devices look like. After all, a diagrammatic explanation of how to use a condom is included within condom packets purchased and all other contraceptive devices require a doctor's prescription and so advice on use will be given by the doctor.
In all of these Science lessons the over-riding assumption and stated context for these activities is within marriage. This is unquestionably a position of moral and spiritual significance and, in that context, the Religious Education Department must have a role to share. However following the same four link chain, the Religious Education Department would plan its lessons to dovetail with the Science lessons so that the following issues can be explored in tandem.
The initial section relating to Natural Fertility obviously brings up the question of who should be indulging in such activity and the whole issue of marriage, commitment, fidelity and the like can be developed within Religious Education lessons. This naturally then leads on through the issue of Natural Infertility to the subject of sterility and the pressures and griefs that this brings to a married couple. The issue of adoption is appropriate to raise here and for children who may be in the class who are adopted it is important that these children are positively recognised as having been specifically chosen by their parents. This is not the case with those of us who were brought up by our natural parents who were unable to exercise any choice of shape, size or appearance!
Moving on to Artificial Fertility one can look at the moral and ethical issues related to some of the practices that are being advanced in the pursuit of fertility, and obviously the recent cases relating to the deployment of eggs from aborted foetuses would be a relevant issue for consideration.
Finally, and crucially for this age of young person, the information regarding Artificial Infertility or contraception will continue to be delivered in the family context. However it will be important to notice that sexual intercourse is seen as the seal upon a marriage because it not only unites a man and woman physically but the emotional and spiritual ties which physical union brings are so strong and so deep that they are best preserved for life-long marriage commitment. For those seeking to 'avoid' these consequences, the conveniences of Morning-After treatment and induced miscarriage and surgical abortion provide only physical escape and even that at no small risk of permanent damage. This in its turn allows the Biblical position to be presented as a positive and safeguarding position rather than a spoilsport one.
It is also important that young people are presented with information about AIDS and HIV and, although there are transfusion and drug issues related to AIDS, there is also the sexual side of AIDS transmission, including homosexual activity. The Biblical view of homosexual acts is quite clear and prohibitive but it does not advocate "gay bashing". This is obviously an area where media presentations and the modern view of the age is that homosexuality is an accepted expression of love between two people and, in that it is an activity undertaken between consenting adults over the legal age of consent, it is of no harm to anyone else. It is likely that this relativist and subjective moral position is held by the majority of our young people in schools because of daily and seductive exposure to these very philosophies.
However, the Biblical position is one of absolutes and young people will be encountering the tension between a relativist view and an absolutist view in many many areas of both the curriculum and their own thinking. Therefore to present the Bible as an absolute is nothing to be shied away from. Nevertheless it must be recognised that the philosophy that states that "as long as what you do doesn't hurt anybody else, it's OK" has a significant flaw. If this philosophy is acceptable then sado-masochism, bestiality and self-abuse are to be considered as wholesome activities. It is very important that young people begin to realise that activities which are "private and personal" often degrade oneself and are not necessarily good and acceptable.
In all of these things it is important to remember the example of Christ who, when confronted by the woman who had been caught in adultery, called upon her accusers, should there be any one of them without sin, to throw the first stone. When Christ looked up from drawing in the sand and saw that no-one remained to condemn her then He, and it was He alone who was without sin, refused to condemn her but encouraged her to go and mend her ways. In a world where many staff and many young people's parents have found the Biblical principles impossible to live by, and where young people themselves have often been involved in experimentation in sexual behaviour, a judgemental viewpoint is not helpful. Nevertheless the Biblical position of God's warnings, advice and heartfelt desire that heterosexual sex is something to be enjoyed fully in its right context within marriage is a perspective that should be positively transmitted and encouraged.
(d) Religious Education
Hopefully it is now apparent that to speak of Religious Education is to refer to a specialist but single strand of the overall spiritual and moral development of young people in schools and yet, here again we have an area in which the law encourages us to place a clear Christian input. Religious Education will naturally embrace the study of religions and religious activity and as such is likely to introduce to young people the concept of what religion is and how various philosophies have developed throughout history. In this study a special place is given to Christianity, not least for the reasons already mentioned whereby to appreciate fully art, architecture, literature, law, music and the development of our modern world, our young people must have an understanding of the Bible and its text. This is not to mention the moral and spiritual elements of the subject.
Of course Religious Education as a subject in itself will be a largely academic exercise although, as seen above, it does have an important part to play in the development of young minds as well as in the transmission of facts and concepts. It is natural therefore that religions other than Christianity will be studied in a way similar to that being advocated for the study of Christianity. Such studies should focus on the assumptions and faith positions held by each religion and pupils should be encouraged to probe and question these details to see whether or not they are philosophies that can be justified and rationally explained. Even taking into consideration the fact that the spiritual dimension is one where faith has as large a part to play as reason, this complexity should not become a deterrent. Furthermore it is often interesting to analyse a religious position and secular philosophy in terms of whether or not such faith positions are "reasonable".
The debate is ongoing as to how many religions should be studied. Regardless of how many religions are to be studied, the essential feature is how they are studied and it would seem academically sound to introduce one religion in clear and significant detail and then to bring other religions alongside it for comparison and contrast. Indeed, this academic approach must surely be far more acceptable within an educational institution than the dishonour attempted by some who seek to synthesise all religions into one common strain where differences are negligible. Although there may indeed be similarities in the concept of faith itself, there can be no academic integrity in a presentation which says that a Christian is no other than a Buddhist in different garb or that a Muslim and a Moonie have far more in common than they have differences. It will not take a pupil very long to observe that the claims of Biblical Christianity and Islam are mutually exclusive and that there are fundamental differences between not only Biblical Christianity and all other religions but among many of those other religions themselves.
Religious Education is about understanding both the beliefs and practices of Biblical Christianity and other religions. Personal spiritual development within Religious Education comes when those differing faiths are considered, questioned, assessed, analysed and decided upon by each individual young person and even by members of staff. The ability to come to these considered opinions is a direct result of the effectiveness with which a school has taught its pupils to think and question.
Against such a background it is also important to recognise that religious faith is more than a simple set of rules for devotees and therefore it is helpful to bring into classroom situations those who have a genuine desire to live by the doctrines of their religion. Once a school is confident that its young people are able to properly analyse in the manner already discussed, it should be wholly appropriate to hear those of different religions present the reasons for their faith and to open themselves to carefully prepared and thought through questions from the pupils themselves. This may be an area of some controversy and would certainly demand the awareness and support of the school Governing Body. If Truth is to be discovered then it is likely to be more accessible in the controlled atmosphere of a classroom than in the misunderstandings of rumour and prejudice and in other situations where cults and sects may seek to approach young people in an altogether different setting outside of school. As all those interested in education will know, to tell children to keep away from something very often excites the opposite reaction. To have documentary and sometimes first-hand detail of belief and practice accompanied and followed by proper critical analysis and advice is more likely to lead to a careful and mature conclusion.
It is our belief, although every school experience can be different, that such mature analysis of the often complex nature of Christianity and other religions is a task best suited to Sixth Form students if it is to be any more than a potentially confusing patchwork of poorly understood rituals. There are now significant numbers of schools without Sixth Forms and, therefore, we believe that an attempt should be made to introduce some form of this Scheme within the last year of statutory schooling. It is both ironic and sad that many schools are unable to deliver the statutory obligation for Sixth Form Religious Education in their curriculum when students are arguably both most ready for and most in need of consideration of these matters. As many of them head off into Higher and Further Education and into the world of work and adulthood, it is a potential tragedy for every single one of them that they may well have been denied access to the true comforts of faith in favour of a diluted hotchpotch of comparative religious study in younger years when it meant little more to them than the rituals of churchgoing and rites of passage.
Appendix Two outlines a newly-developed Course entitled "Philosophy, Theology and Ethics" based upon 1 hour 50 minutes per week as a 2-year Sixth Form Religious Education Course.
This comes from our own practice and offers an insight into the early part of the Course which we are currently developing.
The aim of this booklet is unashamedly to share some of the enthusiasm and excitement that the writers feel for the development of positive Biblical Christian Education in our schools today. It is perhaps only by God's sovereignty that current legislation is couched in such advantageous terms in a country where genuine committed Biblical Christian faith is undermined in so many other areas. It is this very fact that should encourage everyone interested in education, whether they be parent, teacher, pupil or interested observer to step forward and claim the areas of the curriculum which are provided for strong Biblical input. The legal framework is described herein to give us all confidence in knowing the legal entitlements for our young people and even these entitlements may be surprising in the degree to which they support and encourage Christian input. It is a challenge to us all to positively reach forward and seek to take these opportunities.
It cannot be stated strongly enough that regardless of whether or not our schools and classrooms and the minds of our young people are exposed to the claims of Christ and His call upon their lives, they will most certainly be exposed to all sorts of alternative and anti-Christian philosophies. It is wise to recognise that these alternative views do not always present themselves in formal guise but rather work alongside the influences of the media and the general human instinct in establishing the view of the current age that subjectivism and moral relativism are the keystones of 20th century living. Please do not mistakenly believe that a classroom or school can be neutral: even the absence of a statement can say that no statement is worth the making. As Christ's commission clearly exhorts us, we are to go into all the world, preaching the Gospel and making disciples and in both the example of Christ Himself and of the Apostle Paul on Mars Hill, we are to speak with boldness and yet humility, with relevance and yet with challenge, with gentleness and yet with the clear conviction of the Truth of the Gospel.
The practical thoughts mentioned in this booklet are not intended to patronise anyone nor to suggest that the implementation of these or any of these ideas is either easy or without opposition. Rather these suggestions are given to provide some encouragement and impetus for you the reader to consider what contribution you may feel able to make in forwarding whatever conviction you have for the furtherance of Biblical Christianity in our schools.
1 Jowell, R et al/Social and Community Planning Research (SCPR), British Social Attitudes: The Ninth Report, Dartmouth, [pp. 268, 269]
2 The Education Reform Act 1988 [Section 1 (2) (a)]
3 The Education Reform Act 1985 [Section 8 (3)]
4 The Education Reform Act 1988 [Section 6 (1)]
5 The Education Reform Act 1988 [Section 7 (1)]
6 The Education Reform Act [Section 7 (2)]
7 RE Changing the Agenda: Colin Hart: The Christian Institute 1994 [pp. 18-21]
8 The 1986 Education (No. 2) Act: Section 46
9 DES Circular 11/87: Para 19.
10 The Local Government Act: 1986: Section 2A
11 Education Act 1993: Section 241 (4) (c)
12 Education Act 1994: Section 114 (1)
13 The word 'Education' derives from the word 'Educere' which means "to lead out"
14 See Questions raised and quoted above on Page 5 of this Booklet
Tutor Group Prayers exist to give staff and students the opportunity to ponder spiritual things and, if they so wish, to involve themselves in an act of worship. Although people can be present at an act of worship, it does not mean that they are participants; they may well just be observers.
This Tutor Prayers Programme is intended to give opportunity for participation through Bible Reading, discussion and prayer.
Each session should proceed immediately after the Register has been taken and should last no more than 10-12 minutes. The Programme incorporates
on Wednesday: An extended Bible passage and the summary of the salient point(s)
on Friday: A key verse from the earlier passage which leads on to discussion or general input from teacher and/or students in line with the accompanying notes
The Programme is set out to allow coverage of all the key passages in the Bible chronologically, hence Year 7 beginning in Genesis. Students are expected to have their Bibles with them at all times and are to be encouraged to share in the reading of passages. This is facilitated by the passages being known in advance and thus enabling students to practise if they are unsure. This prior knowledge also lends itself to Tutor creativity and the broader involvement of students, providing that the basic elements of the Programme are covered.
Prayer is a very personal affair. Students are to be encouraged to volunteer prayer items (requests, thanks, etc) and these should be listed in the back pages of this programme. These items, plus the key thought(s) from the passage/discussion can be read out as a stimulus for either a time of quiet reflection and prayer and/or can be the basis for a teacher or student (s) - led prayer. Each week's focus is followed by a Thought for Prayer (TFP) as a suggested help to Tutors.
Neither students nor staff should be pressurised to participate audibly in the reading of the Bible or in prayer but are to be encouraged to see Bible passages as relevant to their everyday lives and therefore as being worthy of serious consideration.
Week 1: GENESIS 1 v 1 - 2; 26 - 31 and Chapter 2 v 1 - 3
Key Verse: Genesis 1 v 27: CREATIVITY
Like the God who made us, we are creative people. Name things we have made which we were proud of (food, toys, machines, stories, pictures)
How do we feel when we have made something good?
How would we feel if someone ruined it?
What things do mankind make that are not good? (bombs, pollution, etc)
TFP We are starting a new part of our life this week. What do we hope to make of our time at Emmanuel College. How can God help?
Week 2: GENESIS 2 v 8 - 9; 15 - 25
Key Verse: Genesis 2 v 18: THE IMPORTANCE OF FRIENDSHIP
Why do people need one another? Support, friendship, love, fun, communication. This is also why God created man - to have a special friendship with us.
TFP Perhaps some students around us in Year 7 are really lonely this week and in need of a friend.
Week 3: GENESIS 3 v 1 - 24
Key verse Genesis 3 v 23: MAN'S FALLOUT WITH GOD
Adam and Eve disobeyed God's only command and they broke that special friendship. What kind of things cause trouble between people and nations today? How do you think God feels about it?
TFP Is there anything we have done or said recently that we should say sorry about to God? Is there someone that we have hurt whom we should really make up with? Can God help us to make the first step towards making friends again?
- Week 4: GENESIS 4 v 1 - 16
·Key verse: Genesis 4 v 4 - 5: SACRIFICE
Mankind began to make offerings to God because they were so sorry about what they had done. Abel gave the very best he had but Cain just gave some of what he had grown. God was also pleased with Abel because he saw the importance of sacrificing a live animal for the sins that had cut him off from God. This idea of a life for a life becomes very important as God deals with the world. The special life that God created in Man had been lost because of disobedience. Do you know of anyone who gave their life to save someone else's life? Would you?
TFP Think of those who gave their lives in World Wars to save their friends and to defend this country from our enemies. Some people in the world today need God's help to survive against the evil of war in their countries.
Week 5: GENESIS 6 v 5 - 14 and Chapter 7 v 13 - 23
Key verse: Genesis 6 v 22: OBEYING GOD
Unlike everyone else, Noah did everything God wanted him to. What are the hardest things to obey? Who are the hardest people to obey? Why do we sometimes find it hard to do the right thing when everyone else is disobeying or doing what is wrong?
TFP We often need help to walk away when friends or others get involved in something we know is wrong. Let us ask God for His help to do this.
Week 6: GENESIS 8 v 13 - 21 and Chapter 9 v 16 - 17
Key verse Genesis 9 v 16: PROMISES
When God created the rainbow phenomenon, now believed to occur because of light falling on raindrops, He was making a promise never to flood the world again. How often do we make promises? Do we find them easy to keep? Would you ever break a promise? What promises should we never break?
TFP When people get married they promise to love each other forever but sometimes married people fall out. Let us pray for God to help married people to work hard to overcome their problems and not to give up.
Sixth Form Course in Philosophy, Theology and Ethics
Module 1.1 Moral Dilemmas: we all need Wisdom
Module 1.2 Introduction to Philosophy: what is it?
Module 1.3 Moral Philosophy: what is good?
Module 1.4 Social and Political Philosophy: what is fair and just?
Module 1.5 Spiritual Philosophy: what is god?
Module 1.6 Analysing Thought: principle and precedent
Module 1.7 Analysing Thought: key questions to ask of any philosophy
Module 2.1 Atheistic Humanism, nihilism, existentialism, rationalism, anarchy, relativism
Module 2.2 ditto
Module 2.3 Eastern and Mystical Religions: Buddhism, New Age/ Green, Hare Krishna, Hinduism, Transcendental Meditation
Module 2.4 ditto
Module 2.5 Islam
Module 2.6 ditto
Module 2.7 Biblical Christianity
Module 2.8 ditto
Module 1: Introducing concepts of Philosophy
Module 1: Week 1: (1.1)
We all need Wisdom
Tutor Group Prayers Context:
Tuesday 1 Kings 3 v 16-28 Solomon's wisdom with the two prostitutes
Thursday 1 Kings 3 v 5-14 How important is wisdom
a)to expose the 'risks' of jumping to conclusions without knowing the facts
b) to recognise that we need wisdom in so many of life's situations
i Reference to Tutor Group Prayers from Tuesday
iiActivity 1 : The Assault Jury [Whole Group]
iii Activity 2 : Moral Dilemmas [Small Group : 3/4]
ivConclusion : PTE Course will examine wisdom and look at how we can find a way to live.
Module 1.1: Activity 1
The Assault Jury [Whole Group]
No written work required
The group are asked to act as jury in a court case and are to be asked their opinion of guilt after each disclosure. They may wish to say guilty, not guilty, more information needed, undecided or whatever after each, in relation to the question
"Is the killer guilty of murder?"
NB Murder = premeditated planned killing
Manslaughter = killing in the heat of the moment
Misadventure = accidental killing without intent
Self-defence = killing done to prevent oneself being killed
"A man was walking along Gateshead Main Street at 11:00pm. Suddenly another man stepped out in front of him and drew a knife. On turning around to escape, the man found another attacker had stepped out behind him. The first attacker then moved in, a struggle ensued and as the two men fell the victim managed to turn the knife away from himself but in doing it so it plunged into the attacker's stomach. The other attacker fled and the man stood up as his assailant lay dead at his feet."
Guilty of murder? (Hereafter, this question shall be repeated where [?] is seen )
1. The man who was attacked was a black belt in karate [?]
2. The dead man and his brother, who was the other man in the intended attack, had just buried their brother after a drugs overdose. The intended victim is a known drugs supplier and pusher. [?]
3. The man who was attacked was also discovered to be carrying a knife [?]
4. The attackers had been tracking their target through local pubs since 7:00pm and were drunk by 11:00pm [?]
5. The man who was attacked is taller and heavier than both his attackers [?]
6. It transpires that the dead man did not die of his wound but of a heart attack. He already suffered from a heart condition. [?]
Intended focus : "muddy the waters" where possible and emphasise the importance of securing as many facts as possible
Note the various students' verdicts and send these verdicts to Mr McQuoid. The Year Group verdict will be relayed back to Groups by end of lesson.
Module 1.1: Activity 2
Moral Dilemmas Worksheet
Your group must decide whether or not you believe that charges against the following people should be dropped or taken on to court.
You must justify each decision you make and write you reasons on file paper for your folder.
Read each of the cases carefully and discuss them before reaching your conclusion.
You do not have to agree with the others in your group.
1. A single mother with three dependent children and on income support, steals £10 worth of food from Sainsbury's, as she says, "to save us all from starving".
2. Two students release a variety of animals from a chemical research laboratory. They do no damage having stolen the keys and returned them to their original place.
3. A child who is bullied at home assaults a neighbour's child in the street and demands money.
4. An elderly husband helps his pain-ridden and terminally ill wife to commit suicide by preparing an overdose of her painkillers.
5. A man who discovers that his pay-packet is £5 short, goes to the office and takes £5 from the petty cash box.
- 6. A disqualified driver drives his heavily pregnant wife to the hospital after his emergency call for an ambulance is still unanswered after 30 minutes.
This content requires the Adobe Flash Player. Download Adobe Flash Player here.