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Why is it that most of my students don't like RE?

Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by teachingking123, Nov 17, 2015.

  1. teachingking123

    teachingking123 Established commenter

  2. Noja

    Noja Senior commenter

    It's probably you. Mine love it.
  3. jerseyperson

    jerseyperson New commenter

    I would think for any one or combination of the following reasons:
    1. It has a reputation in the school for being boring/easy/irrelevant
    2. The teaching is poor or the teaching is competent but uninspiring
    3. The curriculum needs reviewing. Topics aren't capturing students' interest (a good balance of philosophy, ethics and theology as well as religious studies is normally good to shake things up a bit)
    4. The school's ethos is not supportive: not enough time is given to it and that sends the message it isn't valuable
    5. The classroom environment needs work- students don't like the working space
    6. If you're new- historically the department had a poor reputation and the students are still thinking they don't like it when really they should start liking it.
    7. The school has a religious ethos - a lot of collective worship or 'confessional language' in non-RE contexts- students are reacting badly to that.

    Um. That's all I can think of for now. Can I just say- I'm just playing devil's advocate here.

    Thanks, JP
  4. teachingking123

    teachingking123 Established commenter

    No! But
  5. jerseyperson

    jerseyperson New commenter

    Ok- so, now all you have to do is make it more challenging/relevant/enjoyable. Easy!
  6. Primary_RE_teacher

    Primary_RE_teacher Occasional commenter

    @jerseyperson is right. That is all you need to do.

    Ps. I am new as of today.
  7. shmazing_teacher

    shmazing_teacher Occasional commenter

    My students like RE. I am the co-ordinator for RE.
  8. andrew07

    andrew07 Occasional commenter

    I'm not pointing fingers at the OP but a lot of RE teachers have the reputation of being rather unprofessional and left-wing.
  9. andrew07

    andrew07 Occasional commenter

    Also, JerseyPerson pretty much summed it up. I used to teach RE believe it or not but got out of it. I would also like to add that my children will not be taking it, thank goodness.
  10. 576

    576 Established commenter

    Why not ask the people who actually know the answer, ie your pupils?
    Survey them on what they like and dislike about the lessons and what improvements they'd like to see.
    needabreak likes this.
  11. Geoff Thomas

    Geoff Thomas Star commenter

    I would counsel care with this, especially if it's a compulsory subject.
  12. jerseyperson

    jerseyperson New commenter

    Thank goodness?
  13. jerseyperson

    jerseyperson New commenter

    I just took over running a department where the subject is (or can now say was) fairly unpopular. I did exactly what 576 suggested. With the year 11s I did a survey of their experiences so far, sucking up the negativity and then addressing some of their issues. A lot of their problems were quickly and very easily resolved (they'd been copying off PowerPoints, for instance, never had the chance to discuss anything and had very little exam skills practice). Some of the problems were fundamental concerns with the subject, some inherited from parents, but many just because curriculum choices had been poor (in my view) and extremely repetitive. Now those same year 11s are working super hard and many (1 in 4) have taken up extra lessons to complete the full course. In younger years, I messed around with the curriculum a bit, introduced a few competitions, star of the week, interactive discussion boards in the classroom and put up a 'curiosity board' to stretch and challenge (this has a spotlight on a new religion each week-fortnight, newspaper articles on religious, ethical and philosophical themes, an 'art for thought' section - got some Banksy up right now - and a co-curricular area- currently 'Philosophy meets film' on how the Matrrix imitates Plato's cave).

    Of course, sabotage amongst other teachers can be an issue. There's nothing helpful about other teachers telling students it's not a real subject, or that the teachers are mostly unprofessional and left wing etc.
  14. amarantine

    amarantine New commenter

    I've found that a lot of kids just don't 'get' the relevance of RE/RS in the context of their everyday life. I started teaching RE 5 years ago at a (very) challenging school and mostly got through to the kids by giving them chance to discuss their opinions, share their views - just be able to actually talk. I used a sponge ball that I chucked around the room to get them all to participate - they loved it. Praise indeed was my last observation before I moved to my current school, with bottom set year 10 - 14 kids, 12 of them disaffected boys. I told them I was afraid we couldn't have music on when they were working next lesson because they were being watched. The toughest lad in the class said "Nah Miss, don't worry about it -we'd never do that to you. We respect you too much". Highlight of my life. That came from the relationships I built with the kids though, having a bit of a laugh with them (when appropriate) and having football-based behaviour leagues.

    Now I am working with the leftover dislike of RE from a very dull curriculum, but the kids are starting to get there...finally! The kids all swore blind they didn't like RE because "I don't wanna be a vicar, Miss!" but I have told them from the start that I'm not trying to teach them what to believe - they also like it when I tell them that, actually, I'm not religious myself, but find other religions really interesting and it's important we know about them.

    It sounds like a cop out but honestly, the way I've got kids to 'like' RE is through the relationships I build with them...that and making lessons 'fun' - competitions, videos, art activities...
    Janeymeggsy, needabreak and shamsh like this.
  15. webb-jack

    webb-jack New commenter

    What I have found is that if you engage RE with topics that students can families with, they seem to enjoy it.. If you go to my page, ive got loads of free lessons you could see this in!
  16. 123Vanilla

    123Vanilla New commenter

    I used to teach RE in my former life and loved it! Most of the kids responded well and enjoyed the lessons.We did RE through art, music and role play. Watched lots of video clips, had discussions, did group work and loads of model making and display work. It is what you make it. RE has the potential (just like any other subject) to be creative, imaginative and fun! The key is to make it relevant to the kids first and foremost.
    shamsh and webb-jack like this.
  17. ShadowMan

    ShadowMan New commenter

    I've always struggled with inspiration in this subject. Whenever I find planning for RE on the net it's often desperately dull. Do posters have links to the amazing planning they are talking about? We're doing Judaism this term. But any examples would be really helpful.
  18. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    In my experience, at the 'good' schools I worked at (all types, I don't mean what Ofsted would call good-I mean where teachers tended to stay a long time and people cared about each other) it was a 'favourite'-and in the uncaring schools, the opposite applied.
  19. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    I suppose lots of people, adults included, think it's irrelevant if you aren't religious, and that if you are, it's up to parents and not schools to teach you.
    I always used to start with a 'myths about RS' workshop.
  20. hhhh

    hhhh Star commenter

    And just thought-it tended to be better respected in schools where it was called RS! Again, all types of schools.

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