Teaching Middle School re dr Felicity McCutcheon 2012 Religious Educators as Educators



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  • Religious Educators as Educators
  • Starting with Plato
  • “The mind (soul) must become capable of bearing the sight of real being and reality at its most bright, which we’re saying is goodness. That’s what education should be: the art of orientation.” (Republic 518c)
  • Religious Educators as Educators
  • Plato continued
  • ‘Education should devise the simplest and most effective methods of turning minds around. It shouldn’t be the art of implanting sight in the organ but should proceed on the understanding that the organ already has the capacity, but is improperly aligned and isn’t facing the right way’ (Plato: Republic, 518c/d)
  • Adolescence
  • Loss of childhood binary concepts and innocent trust of authority
  • Religious Educators as Educators
  • Adolescence
  • “As the roaring of the waves precedes the tempest, so the murmur of rising passions…warns us of the approaching danger. A change of temper, frequent outbreaks of anger, a perpetual stirring of the mind, make the child ungovernable”. (Rousseau, Emile, NY: Dutton, 1955, first published 1762)
  • Middle school teachers might be tempted to say: ‘make the child unteachable’!
  • Religious Educators as Educators
  • Adolescence
  • It is naturally a time of disorientation and re-orientation.
  • This is what makes middle school teaching so full of possibility. What matters is that we provide safe passage for our young people from childish simplistic notions towards being capable of the complexity and ambiguity of human (and religious) life.
  • Religious Educators as Educators
  • Adolescence
  • ‘To become capable of reality at its most bright’
  • To become capable of God
  • Heidegger: What is called Thinking?
  • Thinking is not merely having an opinion or an idea about a state of affairs. Thinking is not developing a chain of premises that lead to a valid conclusion…Thinking is not so much an act as a way of living or dwelling. It is a gathering and focussing of our whole selves on what lies before us and a taking to heart and mind these particular things before us in order to discover in them their essential nature and truth”.
  • Thinking
  • Thinking is the orientation of beings towards being
  • ‘The Woodcarver’
  • Heidegger continued
  • ‘Teaching is even more difficult than learning. We know that; but we rarely think about it. And why is teaching more difficult than learning? Not because the teacher must have a larger store of information and have it always ready. Teaching is more difficult than learning because what teaching calls for is this: to let learn’. (p15)
  • Religious Educators as Educators
  • Adolescence and relevance
  • Postman and Weingartner playlet
  • Religious Educators as Educators
  • Adolescence and relevance – ‘letting learn’
  • Postman and Weingartner inquiry method
  • Self-confidence in their learning ability
  • Pleasure in problem solving
  • A keen sense of relevance
  • Reliance on their own judgment over other people's or society's
  • No fear of being wrong
  • No haste in answering
  • Flexibility in point of view
  • Respect for facts, and the ability to distinguish between fact and opinion
  • No need for final answers to all questions, and comfort in not knowing an answer to difficult questions rather than settling for a simplistic answer
  • Education as attending to the essentials
  • Adolescence and RE
  • What is relevant? Why?
  • (5 minute exercise – talk to
  • neighbour and draw up a list)
  • Education as attending to the essentials
  • Adolescence – becoming capable of reality
  • To be ready to learn is to be ready
  • to die (Kafka)
  • Summary: the essentials for Middle School
  • Uniqueness and importance of adolescence – embrace the questioning
  • Set high standards – demand of them intellectual standards (equivalent to other subjects)
  • Orientation – call them up, not so much to ‘beliefs’ but towards truthful being
  • Good news!
  • There is no perfect curriculum. There is no
  • Platonic Form of a Middle School Scope
  • and Sequence
  • [Why not?]
  • The essentials will include:
  • Religious Education
  • Biblical/Christian Church Tradition
  • World Religions
  • Philosophy
  • Ethics
  • Reflective Stillness
  • Education as attending to the essentials
  • Remember:
  • Curriculum documents serve our purposes.
  • We must not become slavish to them
  • We serve truth, reality and our students
  • When a planner or scope and sequence chart
  • becomes our master, we are now worshipping
  • an idol
  • Adolescence
  • ‘The aim of this course is to help clarify
  • your thinking on matters of profound
  • importance’
  • Pursuing essentials in RE
  • Clarity on matters of profound importance
  • What are matters of profound importance?
  • (5 minute exercise)
  • Pursuing essentials in RE
  • Clarity on matters of profound importance
  • How much overlap between this exercise
  • and the previous one on relevance?
  • Pursuing essentials in RE
  • Clarity on matters of profound importance
  • What are major matters of profound importance to people?
  • Why are these matters of profound importance?
  • Is evidence needed to justify matters of profound importance?
  • What happens when we die?
  • Will we ever know the truth about the beginning of the world?
  • Why are we here?
  • How can there be so many different religions yet everyone believes that what they believe is the truth?
  • Why are people willing to sacrifice everything for their religion?
  • Why do we have differences if we were all made in God’s image? Should we accept these differences?
  • Why is God the way he is?
  • If we are supposed to follow laws/rules why do some people choose to break them?
  • Pursuing essentials in RE
  • Clarity on matters of profound importance
  • Is risking something small for a bigger picture worth it when it involves lives? E.g. War. Can it be justified?
  • Can one’s actions define them?
  • Is there a meaning in living and can it be verified? If not, what makes a person live on?
  • Why do some religions dislike certain people?
  • Why did some white people used to dislike black people?
  • Is there any proof that heaven or hell exists?
  • Is there a lot of room for interpretation in the Quran?
  • Are heaven and hell real places which you transcend to when you die or are they beliefs which guide your actions in life?
  • [these are the questions my year 10 boys wrote down in 2012]
  • Education as attending to the essentials
  • Adolescence – enlarging their world
  • Spiritual
  • Theological
  • Philosophical
  • Ethical
  • Intellectual
  • Are we enlarging and enlightening their world or simply
  • adding more to It? (The tyranny of information?)
  • Education as attending to the essentials
  • Adolescence – enlarging their world
  • “Infomania retards rather than
  • accelerates wisdom”.
  • (Michael Heim, The metaphysics of virtual reality,
  • OUP 1993, p145)
  • Are we enlarging and enlightening their world or simply
  • adding more to It? (The tyranny of information)
  • Education as attending to the essentials
  • The computer does not enlarge
  • Claudia Koonz, from Duke University describes
  • her students thus: “They demand clarity. They
  • want identifiable good guys and bad guys…their
  • belief in the simple answer, put together in a visual
  • way, is, I think, dangerous.”
  • (Time Magazine 10th April, 2006, ‘The
  • Multitasking Generation, p 52)
  • Aims of Middle School RE
  • To help make transition from 2 dimensional thinking towards complexity
  • and deeper truth
  • To enable them to encounter and engage with religious concepts
  • and language with open hearts and minds
  • To address their confusion and distortions about religion and God
  • To provide students with sense-making frameworks that encourage
  • understanding
  • To invite further questions whilst making it safe to live within them
  • To orientate them towards reality – to affirm and feed their desire for it
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • 1. Spiritual Literacy – Year 9
  • Spirituality diagram
  • I – I AM
  • Metaphor and religious language
  • Finding your True ‘I’
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • Spiritual Literacy – ‘Salvation as…’
  • Liberation from bondage
  • Reconciliation from Estrangement
  • Enlightenment from darkness (‘Amazing Grace’)
  • Experiencing the love of God
  • Knowing God
  • The kingdom of God
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • Spiritual Literacy – ‘Salvation’
  • God wills our liberation, our exodus from Egypt
  • God wills our reconciliation – our return from exile
  • God wills our enlightenment – our seeing
  • God wills our forgiveness – our release from sin and guilt
  • God wills that we see ourselves as God’s beloved
  • God wills our resurrection – our passage from death to life
  • God wills for us food and drink that satisfy our hunger and thirst
  • God wills our wellbeing and the wellbeing of all creation
  • In short, God wills our salvation, our healing, here on earth by
  • participating in the divine life
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • Spirituality is not the same as psychology
  • “Much modern therapy trains people to be rigid observers of themselves. They
  • never sleep on the job. Like heroic cowboys they manage to sleep with one
  • eye open. It is, then, extremely difficult to let yourself become a whole-hearted
  • participant in your one, beautiful, unrepeatable life. You are taught to police
  • yourself. When you watch a policeman walk down a street, he does it
  • differently. He is alert, his eyes combing everything. He does not miss
  • anything. When you police yourself, you are on the beat alone…when the
  • usual suspects surface, you will put them through the full process:
  • identification, arrest, conviction. You know how to ‘deal’ with them…We need
  • to rediscover the wise graciousness of spontaneity” (John O’Donohue Eternal
  • Echoes p.333).
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • Spirituality – Neither psychology nor morality
  • John Carroll: “Redeeming truths are
  • metaphysical” (Wreck of Western Culture p205).
  • Neither the trained mind, specialist knowledge nor
  • morality may transform spirit
  • Consider the Pharisees who are ‘morally righteous’ but lack love
  • Consider Mary Magdalene – morally unrighteous yet somehow closer to
  • redemption. She is aware of her “hamartia’ – ‘missing the mark’ –
  • salvation through encounter with Jesus’ pneuma
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • The Bible is not a morality tale
  • God doesn’t want ‘right behaviour’ or even
  • ‘right thinking’ (the Pharisee problem).
  • “We might think that God wanted simple obedience to a
  • set of rules; whereas he really wants people of a particular
  • sort” (C S Lewis, Mere Christianity, Bk3 Ch2)
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • Neither object, person nor psychological technique can satisfy
  • spiritual hunger
  • ‘Most of the really powerful forces in contemporary culture work to
  • seduce human longing along the pathways of false satisfaction. When
  • our longing becomes numbed, our sense of belonging becomes empty
  • and cold; this intensifies the sense of isolation and distance that so
  • many people now feel. Consumerism is the worship of the god of
  • quantity; advertising it its liturgy. Advertising is schooling in false
  • desire’ (John O’Donohue Eternal Echoes xxvii)
  • "You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless
  • until it finds its rest in you." (Augustine Confessions)
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • ‘Behold, I Am the Ground of thy beseeching’.
  • Think about it – Science assumes a source but
  • doesn’t know the source. (Plato’s point!)
  • Psychology is generalised description
  • Spirituality is the lived experience of longing and
  • belonging – unique to each indivdual
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • Isn’t Theology a generalised description?
  • Yes and no; but it is a shared description designed to protect and
  • preserve the inner truth of the individual story. It is not the type of
  • ‘objective’ explanations of science and psychology that that must deny
  • subjectivity or individuality to be valid. Abstract/3rd person vs lived truth
  • Put simply: spirit cannot be put under a microscope or
  • understood by research or presented in statistics
  • C.S.Lewis ‘Don’t go to sea without a map’ (in handout)
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • As Soren Kierkegaard put it:
  • “To be spirit is to be I. God desires to have I’s, for God
  • desires to be loved. Mankind’s interest consists in alleging
  • objectivities everywhere; this is the interest of the category
  • of race. “Christendom” is a society of millions – all in the
  • third person, no I.” (Journals, 4350)
  • This is his ‘Attack on Christendom’
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • Spirituality is not statistics
  • Only an individual can hear the divine voice:
  • “Come here to me, all who labour and are
  • burdened and I will give you rest”
  • Kierkegaard’s reflections on Christ’s words in Practice in Christianity
  • are some of the most beautiful and profound in all Christian writing
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • Spiritual Literacy
  • ‘That to which your heart clings or
  • attaches itself, that is your god.’
  • Martin Luther
  • Student question: How does one distinguish between a
  • true God and idols or substitutes? Why does it matter?
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • Spiritual Literacy
  • Scientists are the Guardian of the Laws of the
  • Physical Universe
  • Religions are Guardians of the Laws of the
  • Spiritual universe
  • [ask students to identify some of these laws]
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • 2. Biblical Literacy – ‘What God is…’
  • How would you deal with the following questions?
  • Why is God the way he is?
  • Why is the God of the New Testament so
  • different from the God of the Old Testament?
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • 2. Biblical Literacy – ‘What God is…’ – Multiple metaphors
  • Political leadership – King, Lord, Warrior, Judge, Lawgiver
  • Everyday human life – Builder, gardener, shepherd, potter, healer, father, mother, lover, wise woman, old man, friend
  • Nature and inanimate objects – Eagle, lion, bear, hen, fire, light, cloud, wind, breath, rock, fortress and shield
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • Biblical Literacy – ‘Imaging God’ – Why it matters
  • King:
  • Grandeur, majesty, glory
  • Power and authority
  • Lawgiver and judge
  • Justice
  • Protection
  • Male
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • Biblical Literacy – ‘Imaging God’ – Why it matters
  • Fire:
  • Safety, protection, warmth
  • Danger, destruction, fear
  • Purifying agent
  • Light
  • Mysterious, wild, powerful
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • Biblical Literacy – ‘Imaging God’ – Why it matters
  • Mrs Beaver from Narnia:
  • ‘Aslan is good but not safe
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • 2. Biblical Literacy – ‘Gospels as portraits’ – Perspective and truth
  • 1. What does the word "gospel" mean?
  • 2. Why are the Gospels more like portraits than photographs?
  • 3. Fill out the following table
  •  
  •  
  • Gospel Date written For Whom Portrait of Jesus
  •  Matthew
  •  Mark
  •  Luke
  •  John
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • 2. Biblical Literacy – Perspectives and Truth - Suggestions
  • Rewrite a story from the Hebrew scriptures from the ‘other’ point of view (for example, a resident of Jericho who survived or a citizen of Nineveh when Jonah turns up),
  • Examine texts where scholars suggest two traditions of authorship have been merged (for example, Genesis 1 and 2 or Moses crossing of the Red Sea) – see handout
  • Write an account of your time as a disciple of Jesus (Judas?)
  • Try to imagine being Saul, the good Pharisee, who undergoes the conversion experience on the road to Damascus and becomes Paul (could relate that back to and explore in terms of one of the ‘salvation’ concepts)
  • Visual: Analyse images of Christ across cultures and eras
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • 3. World Religions and ‘Truth’
  • How religions begin and what they are:
  • ‘The source, the bore, the well and the brickwork’ exercise
  • Philosophical approach to ‘truth’ in religion
  • Relativism, Exclusivism, Non-exclusivism, Pluralism

Acknowledgements

  • Authors
  • Mehmet Ozalp
  • Zuleyha Keskin
  • Hussam Deeb
  • © Affinity Intercultural Foundation 2009
  • Hajj – significant practice

Hajj is Abrahamic

  • Abraham was an exemplar model for monotheism and a mentor for all believers in One God. His faith and submission to One God was equal to the faith of a whole nation as described in the Holy Qur’an.
  • Hajj - Significant Practice in Islam
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • HINDUISM SHORT STORY (Could have any religion as focus)
  •  
  • Write a short story in which at least one character is a Hindu. During the course of the story, you must display an understanding of at least 10 features of Hinduism. These must be footnoted and explained in the footnote. For example, “Indira’s grandfather died after a long illness. She wondered whether he had moved up in the cycle of Samsara or whether his Karma had not been good enough for this. Indira found the Hindu belief in reincarnation difficult to understand and yet at times, it also seemed to make sense.”
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • 3. World Religions and ‘Truth’
  • Year 9 (girls) exam question: Short essay
  • “The soul of religion is one but is encased in a
  • multitude of forms”. (Gandhi)
  • Discuss with reference to exclusivism, non-
  • exclusivism and pluralism
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • 4. Socrates and thinking well
  • Alain de Botton – Guide to Happiness
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • 4. Philosophical thinking and reasoning
  • Arguments for and against the existence of God
  • Evidence
  • Rational proof
  • The problem of evil
  • The limits of science
  • Faith - ‘seeing is believing’
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • 4. Philosophical thinking and reasoning
  • Robert Kirkwood books are an excellent resource
  • Looking for Proof of God
  • Looking for Happiness
  • The Confused Me
  • If I was God I’d say sorry
  • Peter Vardy resources too (books, p/pts and dvds)
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • 4. Philosophical proofs – sample test question
  • 1.The question of God’s existence can arise and be debated because life’s experiences are ambiguous with regard to whether or not there is a God.
  • Explain what the word ‘ambiguous’ means in this context.
  • When people ask for evidence of God’s existence, what kind of evidence do you think they mean?
  • Would any evidence prove one way or another whether there is a divine being? Explain your answer.
  • Could science ever prove God doesn’t exist? Explain your answer.
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • 4. Philosophical proofs (con’t)
  • 2.a) A German philosopher of the 19th century thought he could prove God didn’t exist. What was his name?
  • b) Why do human beings ‘project’ the idea of God according to this argument (you should provide and explain 2 reasons).
  • c) What kind of God do human beings ‘create’ this way?
  • d) Has this philosopher proved God doesn’t exist? Explain your answer.
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • 5. Church history – People, Beliefs and Events
  • Remarkably, the existence of all any
  • Church school depends on (and is
  • historically connected to) the life of
  • Jesus
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • 5. Church history – People, Beliefs and Events
  • Year 9 webquest – aimed at developing their understanding of Christian denominations and also deepening their grasp of history as the unfolding of a human drama – individuals, actions, conflicts, resolutions, decisions etc., ‘make history happen’
  • Introduction | Task | Process | Resources | Assessment | Conclusion
  • “…so what’s an ANGLICAN school anyway?”
  • A WebQuest
  • Introduction
  • Melbourne Grammar is an ANGLICAN school. There are more than 200 independent schools in Victoria from various Christian denominations just like our own and they are attended by about 30 per cent of all Victorian students. So, …why Christian and …why Anglican?
  • How could the life and death of an individual who lived more than 2000 years ago be connected to the existence of some of the major schools in Australia?
  • In this WebQuest you will identify the major denominations of the Christian Church in Australia and the people and factors that led to their formation and come to an understanding of some of the forces that influence the development of any ‘institution’ over time.
  • This is what you will do:
  • Introduction | Task | Process | Resources | Assessment | Conclusion
  • Research in pairs
  • You will work in cooperative Expert Research Groups of two to explore each of the Major Denominations in APS schools. The history of the denomination, the key individuals who had a major influence in its development, etc.
  • You MUST cooperate to:
    • Read through the WWW files linked to your group plus other relevant resources ,
    • Create a clear synthesis of what your group has learned in response to the focus questions
    • You will present it visually using Inspiration, Powerpoint, Videostory etc to communicate the essential points in answer to your research questions
  • Schools in the APS are:
  • Brighton Grammar School, Carey Baptist Grammar School, Caulfield Grammar School, Geelong Grammar School, Haileybury College, Melbourne Grammar School, Scotch College, St Kevin's College, Geelong College, Wesley College, Xavier College.
  • Resources
  • Introduction | Task | Process | Resources | Assessment | Conclusion
  • Roman Catholic: Xavier and St.Kevin’s Colleges
  • Use the information in these websites and other sources to answer these Focus Questions:
  • What Christian denomination does your school belong to?
  • What is the specific history of this denomination? Here you must identify the founder and outline its development – historical events and points of theological significance
  • How were they established in Australia?
  • Who were the key individuals who had a major influence in its development? (In deciding on this your presentation must include a justification for your choices)
  • Roman Catholic Church http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Catholic
  • Christian denominations (wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_denomination
  • Xavier College – History http://www.xavier.vic.edu.au/AboutXavier/history.htm
  • Society of Jesus (Wipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_of_Jesus
  • History of Jesuits http://www.sjweb.info/webguide/cat_list.cfm?SubCatLkUpID=24
  • St Kevin's - History http://web.stkevins.vic.edu.au/stkevins/history.php
  • Edmund Rice online http://www.edmundrice.org/
  • Edmund Ignatius Rice http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13040b.htm
  • Roman Catholic | Baptist | Uniting Church | Anglican
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • 5. Christianity and Church history
  • Recommended Resource (especially for year 7 and 8):
  • All about Faith 1, 2 (and 3)
  • Anne and Niall Boyle
  • Publisher: GILL & MACMILLAN DISTRIBUTION
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • An (important) aside….
  • Choose real resources where possible (newspaper articles for example)
  • Bring the real world into the classroom where possible (real people and events)
  • Any meaningful examination of concepts, texts or people that concerns what it is to make sense of experience is fit RE fodder
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • For example
  • Year 9 – we do Rwanda (read article, watch film, explore themes)
  • In year 10 – we do suicide terrorism. Read article (arguing national identity not religion is primary motivator), watch dvd on psychology of bombers, look at what it means to be ‘economically, politically and socially disenfranchised’ (Israel/Palestine, South Africa apartheid)
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • Aims
  • To understand why it is too simplistic to say ‘he did a bad thing because he is a bad man’.
  • To understand the complexity of forces at work in human lives in context
  • To deepen one’s understanding of what it means to be human (homo religiosus)
  • To promote historical and factual literacy
  • To help them grow up, orientated towards the light of reality (heliotropism)
  • Purposeful pedagogical tools
  • In Sum
  • Not merely heliotropism but phototropism:
  • Phototropism is directional growth in which the
  • direction of growth is determined by the direction
  • of the light source. In other words, it is the growth
  • and response to a light stimulus (or source).
  • Purposeful unit planning session
  • Afternoon session ideas
  • Brain storm ideas. Groups to choose one and work together
  • Pick a topic from the ‘matters of profound importance’ exercise and construct a unit of work that will produce greater clarity for your students
  • Work on a scope and sequence for a year level or across levels
  • Take a theological concept (like salvation) and create a unit that develops an understanding across the 5-strands
  • Work on a unit on biblical literacy.
  • Construct a unit around a film study
  • Art and image – how to incorporate into existing units?
  • Work on a world religions unit
  • Purposeful unit planning session
  • Developing resources and expertise
  • Charles Sturt Graduate Certificate in Religious and Values Education:
  • http://www.csu.edu.au/courses/postgraduate/values_education/course-overview
  • The course is being expanded to a full MA, available from 2013, and details will be available at the end of the year.
  • Dialogue Australasia Network
  • www.dialogueaustralasia.org


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