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Can you please help me with some research?

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by Helena Handbasket, Aug 22, 2011.

  1. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket New commenter

    Hi, I am writing an article about the stereotyping of RE teachers and was hoping you could answer a couple of questions for me please.

    1. Do you consider yourself religious?
    2. If so, what religion do you follow?
    3. Do you think that your beliefs help your teaching?
    4. In your experience, do you find your RE colleagues are more likely to follow a religion than those teaching other subjects?

    If you have any extra comments to make I would really appreciate thoughts and opinions on this matter that can contribute to my research.

    Thank you very much [​IMG]
     
  2. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket New commenter

    Hi, I am writing an article about the stereotyping of RE teachers and was hoping you could answer a couple of questions for me please.

    1. Do you consider yourself religious?
    2. If so, what religion do you follow?
    3. Do you think that your beliefs help your teaching?
    4. In your experience, do you find your RE colleagues are more likely to follow a religion than those teaching other subjects?

    If you have any extra comments to make I would really appreciate thoughts and opinions on this matter that can contribute to my research.

    Thank you very much [​IMG]
     
  3. poppy2004

    poppy2004 New commenter

     
  4. You need to think what you are trying to achieve with this question, in particular. It's almost certain that RE teachers have a different religious profile to teachers in general. In fact in Catholic schools I believe RE teachers are required to be practising Catholics. But what's your interest in a subjective impression, by teachers, of other teachers' religosity?


     
  5. Helena Handbasket

    Helena Handbasket New commenter

    Thanks Poppy, really helpful of you!

    BGY: I totally agree with you about the faith school issue, but from friends who teach other subjects I hear that staff teaching other subjects are also supposedly required to support the faith in some way.
    I was just interested if it was something people had noticed from their experience. I can't be the only one who gets asked 'are you religious then?' immediately after saying I teach RE whereas people don't generally ask history, maths, science teachers etc.

    The first 2 questions are what I need for my immediate research and the other two were mainly for a bit of background.

    thanks
     
  6. jerseyperson

    jerseyperson New commenter

    BGY Who ARE you??? Are you even an RE teacher?
    1 & 2 I'm a weird sort of pluralist- I believe all religions have touched on the truth somehow. But I follow no religious practices at all.
    3. Like Poppy, I'm open about my beliefs (or at least I think that's what you're saying Poppy). I find it helps enormously that I believe what I do- the students really do get where I'm coming from but they know that my position also means I don't have any bias towards any particular religion.
    4. My experience is that there are no more religious people teaching RE than in any other teaching subjects. That is based on teaching in 4 schools.
    I, too, am sick and tired of the "are you religious then?" question that comes up immediately. I would never ask a Business Studies teacher, "are you filthy rich then?". Ok, the analogy's poor, but I do resent the assumptions. Obviously, our answers to Q4 are probably just anecdotal, but I would be really interested to see what the statistics are on this. Having said that, on my PGCE course I was one of only 2 or 3 people who were not Christian, but I do know a lot of the othet students didn't see the course or their NQT year through. I wonder if it could be tougher for some people who are religious to teach the subject? (emphasis on some). Just speculating.
     
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  8. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    Question 1 - spiritual rather than religious.

    I grew up in the Quaker branch of Christianity. I was quite an active Quaker from childhood on. Later experience of worshipping with other Christian denominations widened my understanding of faith - and in the 1970's I met my husband and spiritual teacher, husband Hindu, teacher Indian which influenced my faith a lot because I could only explain the way I met them - and recognised them - and the way that Indian culture, music etc was so FAMILIAR - by accepting that reincarnation happens.

    I found the same 'God' that I knew in Christianity when I worshipped in the Hindu temple, and in particular felt a deep affinity with the goddesses and the concept of God as Mother. (Durga was always my favourite deity, so when my spiritual teacher later gave me the spiritual name Durga-Mata this was a great source of surprise and delight.)

    Our landlords were Sikh and we often went to the Gurdwara. My best friend was Muslim and I often worshipped with her. In these different faiths and places/ways of worship I encountered the God I already knew and loved as a Christian.

    Some of these experiences are included in my resources.

    All this and much more has inspired me to train as a specialist RE teacher and now to work as a consultant, particularly to strengthen the integrity and spirituality of what we teach and the way we teach it.

    Now to come to your question 2. I tell my students that I love God and I recognise all the religions. I claim them all as my own and when I teach any religion I approach it as my own religion - using as much input from that faith community (and any practising members who are in my classes) as I can. So what is my religion? Every religion! And this includes atheiwm, because I explain that what atheists see and view with wonder, but respond to in an intellectual way and explain in a scientific way and say is 'no God' I see and respond with love and gratitude and call 'God.'

    One of my favourite questions was from a boy who asked me, 'My father says are you all religions on the inside or on the outside?' I said that the good thing about this question is that it recognises that religions have an inside and an outside. You can't be all religions on the outside because that is where the variety and differences are. But on the inside it is easy because they are all responding to the spiritual aspect of life,

    OK Question 3 - My beliefs help me as a teacher not only when I teach RE but in my whole approach to teaching. One of my favourite ways of understanding spirituality is a poem which includes the lines ... My true spirituality is the love of Your Breath in every heart... so when I teach I try to be aware of the Divine in the heart of my students and to make my teaching a form of worship. It is basically seeking to develop a relationship with my students of love and trust, accepting them as they are, respecting them as they are, and encouraging their own self understanding as much as the aqcuisition of new knowledge and learning about other ways of making sense of the world.

    Question 4, I think there are probably more philosophers/thoughtful/spiritually aware people in RE than in average staffrooms, but there can be avid atheist RE teachers - indeed quite a lot of those I have met have been atheist. And you can get some quite narrow minded religious people in subjects outside RE.

    One interesting question would be to ask for anecdotes about the way that staff and students respond to you when they know you are an RE teacher. Students can be very rude. I don't think they would respond to other teachers in this kind of prejudiced and hostile way.

    Well, I'm on holiday - which is more of a spiritual pilgrimage - but just had the opportunity to use a friend's laptop. I have to go now and may not get back to the forum for another week or so -but at least I could contribute to one thread. I hope you are all having a great Summer Break

    happy days, DurgaMata
     
  9. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    So sorry. I didnt put in the paragraphing since this is a state of the art MAC laptop and I assumed it would do it for me. No time to re-do it so I hope you can struggle through.
     
  10. 1. Do you consider yourself religious?
    Yes - I am a Christian but I also consider myself very 'open minded 'and encourage all of my students to be this too. A large majority are resistance of religion and come to me with a negative stance on religion and I think if I can portray a positive image of someone who has a belief that can only be a good thing.
    2. If so, what religion do you follow?
    Church of England
    3. Do you think that your beliefs help your teaching?
    Yes - but I would like to think I have a high level of knowlege about ALL religions. I do think it helps me but it does not matter as it I the quality of teaching which is the important thing and a passion and committment for the subject. You don't need to be religious to deliver excellent RE.
    4. In your experience, do you find your RE colleagues are more likely to follow a religion than those teaching other subjects?
    No. I am a sole specialist in my school but when I have worked with ITTs they have all been atheists. I have worked with a few colleagues who have been Christian and not taught RE.
     
  11. Basically I agree with what Poppy and Jerseyperson said - not religious, but not un-religious! I am quite open (when asked) about my beliefs and have ended up having good discussions about a personal need to feel that there is something more than this life or about the nature of God. Of the RE teachers that I have worked with, most have been agnostic/atheist, and in my present school the department where you are most likely to find a believer is the Science dept!

    As for the "don't you have to be religious to be an RE teacher" question, my usual response is along the lines that "you don't have to be French to be a French teacher and you don't have to be old to be a history teacher" [​IMG]
     
  12. 1. Yes. Always have been.
    2. Church of England, but there's a lot more to it than that. I'm a 'casual' (tho quite regular) attender at my local church. I am agnostic about a lot of church teachings and think some of it is downright unhelpful, coming as it does from political compromise over the years (e.g. doctrine of the Trinity). I am absolutely a universalist. If born in India I would have been a Hindu. I don't communicate the complexity of this belief to years 7-9 - I just say I am a Christian as clarity is more important than confusing people at that age, but am a little more detailed with older students.
    3. Yes. If a teacher is driven and inspired it rubs off on the students. I love to discuss and debate religious issues. The students can tell. That's not to say that you need to be religious to be an RE teacher. When expressing my beliefs I always make it clear that they are mine and not authoritative, nor respresentative of any denomination etc.
    4. Hard to say. I know a few very good RE teachers who are atheists and agnostics. Many are unsurprisingly inclusive in their views of e.g. interfaith relations and perhaps the category that you are least likely to find as an RE teacher is the fundamentalist evangelical. I think you are just as likely to find a religious person in other subjects, but they tend to keep very quiet about it. I agree with others that lots of Scientists seem to be closet Christians. What is it about scientists that they just can't face controversy ...
     
  13. 1. Do you consider yourself religious?
    No.

    2. If so, what religion do you follow?
    -

    3. Do you think that your beliefs help your teaching?
    I'm not sure. I think in faith schools it might matter more, but it just makes me consider bias in RE whether any teacher is religious or not. I try to keep an open mind in my teaching but I'm aware that my own beliefs may affect my teaching and try (even if unsuccessful) to keep this minimal. If I did belong to a faith and taught in a faith school I think this would be different (not in a negative way!).

    4. In your experience, do you find your RE colleagues are more likely to follow a religion than those teaching other subjects?
    I'm probably not as experienced as some, but found that it was a 60/40 split for religious and non-religious RE teachers on my RE PGCE. On both my placements the number of non-religious/agnostic RE teachers was greater than those who followed a religion. Both schools were comprehensives.
     
  14. EDIT: So sorry about the paragraphs, Google Chrome strikes again, I promise they were there! Anyone know a fix? Posting again with Firefox, apologies!

    1. Do you consider yourself religious?
    No.

    2. If so, what religion do you follow?
    -

    3. Do you think that your beliefs help your teaching?
    I'm not sure. I think in faith schools it might matter more, but it just makes me consider bias in RE whether any teacher is religious or not. I try to keep an open mind in my teaching but I'm aware that my own beliefs may affect my teaching and try (even if unsuccessful) to keep this minimal. If I did belong to a faith and taught in a faith school I think this would be different (not in a negative way!).

    4. In your experience, do you find your RE colleagues are more likely to follow a religion than those teaching other subjects?
    I'm probably not as experienced as some, but found that it was a 60/40 split for religious and non-religious RE teachers on my RE PGCE. On both my placements the number of non-religious/agnostic RE teachers was greater than those who followed a religion. Both schools were comprehensives.


     
  15. ramaduds

    ramaduds New commenter

    1. Not at all - but deeply respectful and empathetic towards faith
    2. Agnosticism, leaning more to atheism
    3. Absolutely, the belief in being completely objective helps me deliver objective lessons and my beliefs about the importance of understanding others, valuing human life and considering ultimate questions helps pupils understand the importance of these issues and questions
    4. Not particularly moreso than other subject areas, no. (With the exception perhaps in faith schools).

     
  16. 1 I have been 'religious' and attended Church regularly in the past, but I do not now - therefore I do not consider myself 'religious' - whatever that means. I believe there's something I associate with 'God'.
    2 Initially Church of England (as a young person) now leaning towards Quaker.
    3 Yes - the fact that my views/beliefs have evolved and developed means that I am able to encourage students to explore their own hopefully in an atmosphere of safety and informed dialogue.
    4 I have come across a range of teachers in RE. There are some that come from religious backgrounds (not just Christian) and are fabulous RE teachers, there are others who are atheist and are also fabulous RE teachers. I do get slightly concerned about those who have a committment to their faith but seem unaware that this is affecting their teaching and behaviour - it is a huge responsbility to teach this subject and we all have biases. The most important thing is to be aware of the biases we bring to the classroom and allow students to challenge them appropriately.

    HOpe this helps - interesting questions!
    B
     

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