Why include Religious Education In Home Schooling
Although the Religious Education is a compulsory subject in state schools it is not elsewhere. So, as home-schoolers why should we teach RE?
I have to claim a bias here as my first degree is ‘Religious Education’. I went to university originally to study the 6 main world religions.
Therefore, I always start my RE lessons with the idea that R.E. stands for 'Really Exciting' because it is very hard to separate religion and people’s faith from the stores they tell.
This is the sort of questions I find really existing: C. S. Lewis’ Christian beliefs are very evident in his novel The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and this book is on the core reading list.
If we read this book and are effected by the messages in the story are we being effective by the Christian message unknowingly? What are the Christian messages given in the book? Can we read the book without knowing what influenced the writer and do we pick up on these main Christian themes anyway?
I find that R.E. turns up in complex ways in English, Maths, Science, History, Geography, Music, Citizenship, PSHE, Art, Design and Technology and Sex Education regardless.
The movement of one group people in Geography, to the persecution of another in History. How religious thought effect the depiction of women. Why certain clothing was only thought suitable for men. Why in Japan the pill was used thirty years after its introduction in the West.
Why the west delayed the adoption of the zero as a place holder in maths.
Recording The Learning
For our learners on the Autistic Spectrum, some aspects of the Religious Education may not be for them as individuals. Questions where there are no clear answers will be tricky because life is seen as very black and white. If believers believe this - why do they do that? Getting different view points of the events will need some skilful handling. Balancing two conflicting views of the same event equally may not be possible - but we should try.
For our dyslexic learners, writing reams of information about an event or an individual and the movement they started - is not helpful. Record their responses and thoughts in an audio/visual method, like using your phone, is sufficient evidence. Mind mapping is a great way to record information. Here are the basics:
Start in the centre with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colours.
Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your mind map.
Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.
Each word/image is best alone and sitting on its own line.
The lines should be connected, starting from the central image. The lines become thinner as they radiate out from the centre.
Make the lines the same length as the word/image they support.
Use multiple colours throughout the mind map, for visual stimulation and also for encoding or grouping.
Develop your own personal style of mind mapping.
Use emphasis and show associations in your mind map.
Keep the mind map clear by using radial hierarchy or outlines to embrace your branches.
When you attend a wedding, naming ceremonies or even a funeral then you may be taking part in a religious event. Different religious communities have different festivals around the year and taking part in these all count towards the education time delivered. Recorded it in the diary counts: along with a collection of greating cards related to the event, a personal recount of feelings, what happened and photographs (where appropriate) all add up. Showing really good evidence that this very important element of education is taking place. Evidence of taking part in such events outside your own family traditions are very important to record, giving them equal weight to your own traditions will be noted very favourably.
Following A Set Programme of Learning
Here are my personal reasons why we need to teach R.E. in the home school environment. In the simplest terms, studying religion and belief is an indispensable part of a complete education because of the influence of religions and beliefs on individuals, culture, behaviour and national life. Most religions and beliefs offer answers to life’s deepest questions, for example both Christians (Lent) and Muslims (Ramadan) have a period of fasting where money and food is collected and donated to those without. During the fasting, participants are encouraged to think about what it is to be without. Why do both groups do this? Many learners seek answers to questions like these, as they work out how to live a good life.
One of Religious Education’s important functions is to help learners understand and have access to culture. R.E. can be justified because culture and belief are so closely inter-twined. It helps learners to become culturally literate, accessing and enjoying their own heritage. Europe and the UK have been deeply influenced by the Abrahamic religions for centuries, in their language, literature, law, holidays, art, architecture and moral standards.
Many great artists, composers, musicians and writers had deep religious and/or philosophical inspiration for their work. Many use religious themes and employ references to religious literature and thought. The questions then become:
How can we understand the work of Milton or Mozart, without a knowledge of the key religious texts that they used? ideas and stories?
How can we feel part of the history and traditional cultures without a knowledge and understanding of the religious and philosophical traditions which helped to form them?
Religious Education helps learners on their personal quest, helping learners better to understand themselves and the world. The questions then become:
What is the meaning and purpose of life?
Where are we going?
What is ‘true’?
Is my own existence meaningful, and is there anything beyond personal happiness?
What skills do I need to succeed in life?
These questions enable learners to gain insights from religions and philosophies and give them practice in ‘skills for life’, such as empathy, sensitivity, humility, and in thinking and communicating well. The final reason is that religions and philosophies exist, and they offer fascinating cultural phenomena, having limitless interest in their own right. The questions then become:
Who was the author of this sacred text, and what meaning did it intend to convey?
How can I penetrate through my own cultural assumptions, and my distance from the original context, in order to discover the truth about this text or object?
What languages do I need to translate an ancient scroll?
Including Religious Education In The Learning Routine
Here, at Orchard Training we try to embed Religious Education into our projects, where it sits naturally and can be enjoyed.
For example, we explore how over time religion and culture effects the design of the playing pieces in our project on Chess.
Chinese New Year is a popular subject and event in the calendar, covering as it does thoughts and feeling about Spring, the moon, seasons and living in the moment.
The gathering of families together has some very meaningful links with that of Christmas, Passover and Eid al-Fitr.
You don’t need any fancy, expensive equipment to teach Religious Education and it is easier if you are a family of faith to promote your own traditions.
Each project will list the resources you will need and suggestions of where to visit.
They are written with the home-schooler’s budget in mind.
The biggest expense will be visiting religious attractions. Whilst some don’t charge - others do.
The main cost is the travel and ticket price: plan ahead, combine the visit with other activities, take a packed lunch – just like a real educational trip!