‘The outcome of religious education is religiously literate young people ... who are aware of the demands of religious commitment in everyday life.’
In what ways does classroom RE achieve this?
The quote in this essay title not only states that children who experience religious education become religiously literate young people; but that they also begin to know the importance of religious commitment in everyday life. This however is an easy proposition to state, but to achieve this in classroom Religious Education can be a demanding and challenging realisation. For a child to become religiously literate they need to be able to understand and have knowledge about Religion, but to become aware of the demands they not only need to learn about Religious Education, they need to learn from it. Religious Education in catholic schools is not only learning from classroom RE but from the wider community: from parents and the parish. It is important when learning catholic religion in a catholic school the teacher links the learning in the classroom to the wider community so the children can become aware and possibly adapt the demands of the catholic everyday life. As the Catholic Education Service says ‘If in Catholic schools, we are able to play our part in the moral development of the young people in our charge, we need to agree among ourselves, with parents, what are shared values are and how we plan to put them into practice. A school contributes or fails to contribute, to the moral development of its pupils, by the broad values that are upheld by the school generally.’ (1995,20)
Catholic Education inspires children to be able to make their own decisions, as Catholics believe we were all made in the image and likeness of god. Religious Education should be portrayed to children as a journey, where children can use their free will to choose their own religious path. They should be able to understand that everything we do our talents, gifts and experiences help us to lead a life in the image of God; this is a huge commitment Catholics make in their everyday lives. Children in Classroom religion should be able to reflect on this and become aware of the demands of religious responsibility. As it states in the Bishops conference, ‘The catholic vision of education promotes the dignity and freedom of every person as created in the image and likeness of God. This vision inspires and encourages the beliefs and values which are lived out in the daily life of the catholic school.’ (1996,10)
When teaching Religious Education in a catholic school the teachers aim should be to develop the children’s knowledge about religion and help them understand it. It should be able to allow children to investigate and have opinion on some of the biggest question asked. However even when teaching in a catholic school not all children may have been exposed to religion and this may be their first look into it. Some children will have come from very catholic backgrounds and when they look into Catholicism deeper it may heighten their faith. However to some children it may make them realise that they don't want to commit to the religious way of life. Whatever the children's beliefs it is important in a catholic school children are able to understand the religion and what it is about, as Grace and O’Keefe suggest ‘For some, classroom religious education will deepen and enhance their personal faith; for many it may well be the first presentation of the Christian beliefs....the freedom of conscience must be respected.’ (2007, 262)
Although Religious Education is not subject to nationally prescribed attainment targets there are two attainment targets for Religious Education they are: Learning about Religions and Learning from religion. Learning about Religions covers skills necessary for pupils to develop knowledge and understanding of a variety of religions. Even in a...
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