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upsetting question on AQA RS GCSE paper

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by deut, May 25, 2012.

  1. deut

    deut New commenter

  2. Did they not think this through?!! [​IMG]
    What Spec/unit/topic was it on?
     
  3. TheBigA

    TheBigA Occasional commenter

    I think it's a legitimate question. How else would you have worded it?
     
  4. chrisoakey

    chrisoakey Occasional commenter

    Not for the first time Gove is simply wrong.
    To explain something is NOT to justify. If we only condemn what we do not like we will never effectively understand and systematically dismantle it, piece by piece.
    Gove seems to be an anti-intellectual if he doesn't get it.
     
  5. 576

    576 Established commenter

    This is interesting.
    The telegraph says
    &ldquo;<u>We would expect [students to refer] to the Holocaust to illustrate prejudice based on irrational fear, ignorance and scapegoating,&rdquo;</u> she said.
    She added: &ldquo;The board is obviously concerned that this question may have caused offence, as this was absolutely not our intention&rdquo;.
    Ofqual, the official exams regular, said that it was in discussion with AQA, adding: &ldquo;We will take appropriate follow-up action if necessary.&rdquo;
    Rabbi David Meyer, the executive head of Hasmonean High School, whose pupils did not sit the AQA test, told the paper that the question had &ldquo;no place&rdquo; in an exam.
    &ldquo;The role of education is to remove prejudices and not to justify them,&rdquo; he said.
    But Clive Lawton, formerly an A-level chief examiner for religious studies, said: &ldquo;I do understand why people might react negatively to the question, but it is a legitimate one.
    &ldquo;Part of the syllabus is that <u>children must study the causes and origins of prejudice against Jews.</u>&rdquo;

    The first bit I've underlined cites ignorance as a cause of said prejudice. That really means that the prejudice has no real cause and if anti-semites were less ignorant they'd be less prejudiced.
    How then can you talk about 'causes and origins' !

     
  6. It does also assume that the circumstances leading up to the Holocaust still apply. I find this a depressing message, if this is the case. I would rather see a question that asks pupils to explain why anti-semitism is unacceptable, it would surely use the same skills but not normalise it as that question seems to do.
     
  7. ramaduds

    ramaduds New commenter

    I'm confused. Some people do hate Jews. Some people hate gays. Some people are sexist. Some people are racist. How is 'Why do some people hate Jews' any different that asking 'Why are some people anti-Semites' or 'Why are some people racist' or 'Why are some people homophobic'. We MUST ask these questions if we are to tackle the issues. Skirting over such questions will only create more ignorance.
    What about exam questions such as 'A Christian can never be a terrorist' whereby pupils are encouraged to be objective, showing reasoning from two points of view. They are difficult questions, but only through understanding the causes and reasons behind such awful acts are we to fully able to grasp the irrational and detrimental nature of issues such as prejudice.
    The questions are blunt, I agree, but I'm afraid the world these pupils are going into is blunt. We must be open and honest with pupils, and encourage them to realise the true nature of anti-Semitism and other awful crimes.
    All this shows is that teaching such issues is of paramount importance - I would be more concerned if teachers and exam boards were not asking such questions! Does anyone truly feel AQA were intentionally (or even through ignorance) trying to cause offence? The exam question itself was to assess whether pupils knew ignorance (as well as other irrational reasons) cause hatred towards a particular group of people.
     
  8. deut

    deut New commenter

    <font size="3">I am surprised at your cavalier attitude towards the Jewish community. They have always supported Religious Education and I think you are wrong to be so dismissive towards the views of Jewish leaders</font><font size="3">.ws/uk-news/68021/gcse-question-asks-why-do-some-people-hate-jews</font><font size="3">&lsquo;The Jewish Chronicle understands that Mr Gove&rsquo;s department had been contacted by a senior educational figure in the Jewish community. Jon Benjamin, chief executive of the Board of Deputies, also took issue with the question. &ldquo;Clearly this is unacceptable and has nothing whatsoever to do with Jews or Judaism,&rdquo; he said.&rsquo;</font><font size="3">If the question had asked generally about the causes of prejudice it would have prompted the same responses as those on the model answer for this question. Imagine if the question had asked why are some people prejudiced against black people? There would inevitably be some racist answers . The wording of this question shows a lack of sensitivity towards the Jewish community. </font><font size="3">Religious Education is struggling to retain respect and status in schools and this kind of news story does nothing to help our cause. Neither does it help when teachers on this board lecture to the Jewish community </font><font face="Times New Roman">&lsquo;All this shows is that teaching such issues is of paramount importance - I would be more concerned if teachers and exam boards were not asking such questions!&rsquo; </font><font size="3">And presumably you are not concerned about the views of the Jewish community? It sounds as if you are disregarding their views for their own perceived good. It seems to me to be a patronising and unhelpful attitude and one designed to provoke the belief held by some that RE does more harm than good. Gove's response is incidental here and it is to the response of faith communities that we should be listening. </font>
     
  9. Let's be clear, there are a range of views in all communities and that's probably what good RE teaches as well. No-one is denying there is anti-semitism, or that some people are prejudiced against gays/Muslims/other minorities and that RE plays a massive role in combatting racism. However, I do think the question was worded in a rather clumsy way.
     
  10. ramaduds

    ramaduds New commenter



    <font size="3">I
    take on board your comments and yes I clearly understand that some Jewish
    leaders feel that the question may be loaded to allow anti-Semitism. I repeat
    however, do you seriously feel this was AQA's intention? I am horrified and
    hurt you feel that my belief in getting to the 'core' of such issues is
    dismissive of Jewish leaders! I have chosen a career in the objective study of
    religion, and teach Judaism both to Key Stage 3 and GCSE. I would be distraught
    if my teaching ever came across as allowing anti-Semitism. I have so much respect for the Jewish nation,
    and empathise completely with any group that suffer from any form of discrimination. I myself have been a victim to such hateful
    discrimination. My point however is
    contrary to dismissal, it is that pupils need to be fully aware of why some
    people discriminate in general, and what &lsquo;excuses&rsquo; they give for particular
    discriminatory comments. If not and
    ignored, pupils will be victims of ignorance themselves. These particular pupils, like my own, have
    sat through a two-year long course examining the Jewish tradition. A part of the course is examining what atrocities
    the Jews have lived (and died) through in their recent and ancient
    history. Another part is assessing how
    Jews responded to suffering. Another
    part is examining the &lsquo;remember or forget&rsquo; debate concerning the
    Holocaust. My pupils respond to such
    issues with tremendous compassion, and I doubt many teachers would opt for such
    a paper if their pupils didn&rsquo;t (there is indeed many to choose from). I would be interested to know what percentage
    (if any) did respond with anti-Semitist remarks, or if the answers to the
    question show strong teaching and learning on this issue. I would rather discuss and tackle the question
    in the safety of a classroom before they encounter anti-Semitism in
    society. A question on a different exam
    paper: &ldquo;&lsquo;Homosexuality is a sin&rsquo; Discuss.&rdquo; (Requiring balanced arguments for
    and against and personal viewpoints) &ndash; do you feel this is any different?</font>
     
  11. It obviously wasn't AQA's intention. I reiterate that the Jewish community, like all communities, is a wide one with many people within it with different views. I personally would feel for any gay pupil who was faced with a statement in an exam that 'homosexuality is a sin' and would think that could have been more sensitively worded too.
     
  12. 576

    576 Established commenter

  13. ramaduds

    ramaduds New commenter

    The statement from AQA also outline that pupils have understood the question how it was intended. This would include Jewish, Christian, atheist etc... 16 year olds. This is because this issue, about understanding the causes of prejudice, and in particular prejudice towards the Jewish people, was taught and learnt successfully. I have heard of Faculty leaders not teaching Islam because it lends itself to 'controversal debate'. Ignorance leads the prejudice. I am severely concerned some people on this thread have no trust in teachers of RE dealing with issues of anti-semitism sensitively. I confidently say RE specialists, since GCSE Judaism is extremely unlikely to be opted if a teacher was a non-specialist. No pupils seem to be outraged at the statement, nor the Jewish community that AQA consulted when setting the syllabus.
    I agree that Gove will use this against RE, obviously not fully understanding the job we do.
    I too would be concerned that the Jewish community felt the question was inappropriate, and would take that into account when designing future exam questions. BUT this doesn't mean that the question insinuates or encourages anti-Semitism, and NO ONE has answered the question on how it attempts to justify anti-Semitism. Explain the causes of drug abuse?' Does this too justify drug abuse, or simply educate the youth about how drug abuse is caused. And like drug abuse, the causes of anti-Semitism is taught alongside it's effects, responses and religious teachings. Without the full specification, this one short-answered question seems to be taken well out of context.
     
  14. ramaduds

    ramaduds New commenter

    Oxford Dictionary:
    • Explain - make an idea clear by describing it in more detail
    • Justify - show or prove to be right or reasonable.
    Explain the causes of poverty - no problem, just describe what causes povety in detail
    Justify the causes of poverty - NO! This would be wrong.
    To explain is NOT to justify!
     
  15. TheBigA

    TheBigA Occasional commenter

    I totally agree ramaduds, well said.
     

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