Welcome to the coloured glass classroom! We hope to provide you with lots of creative ideas and resource links to help you engage the young people in your religious and Christian education classes. This blog is sponsored by the Anglican Schools Commission of the Anglican Church Southern Queensland.

26 March 2012

Morality - reason and response

Strand(s):  Ethics and Values

Year level: Senior School

Phase: All

Time: 1 lesson

Summary:  An activity to explore the motivations behind people's moral decisions making using Kohlberg's stages of moral development.

1. Introduce students to Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development with the following information:

Moral development is the process by which we acquire values, beliefs and thinking abilities that guide moral behaviour. In order to study this Kohlberg presented children of different ages with the following scenario:

A woman was near death from cancer, and there was only one drug that might save her. It was discovered by a druggist who was charging 10 times what it cost to make the drug. The sick woman’s husband could only pay $1000, but the druggist wanted $5000. He asked the druggist to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. The druggist said no.  What action should the husband take?  

(at this stage you might like to get student to reflect and write about what they would do in this situation and why)

Kohlberg classified the reasons given for each choice and identified three levels of moral development. Each is based not so much on the choices made but on the reasoning used to arrive at a choice. The three levels are: Preconventional, Conventional and Postconventional.

  • At the preconventional level thinking is guided by the consequences of the action. (reward, punishment etc)
  • At the conventional level reasoning is based on the desire to please others or to follow accepted rules and behaviours.
  • At the postconventional level reasoning is based on self-accepted moral principles.

Within these three levels Kohlberg proposed six stages of moral development. People pass through these stages are different rates, with some never reaching the higher levels.

2. Using the scenario above, and Kohlberg’s six stages of moral development as a framework, propose possible courses of action the husband might take and most importantly the reason behind them.

Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development


Stage 1. Punishment orientation

Actions are evaluated in terms of possible punishment, not goodness or badness; obedience to power is emphasised. Avoid punishment.

Stage 2. Pleasure-seeking orientation

Proper action is determined by one’s own needs; concern for the needs of others is largely a matter if ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.’ Not of loyalty, gratitude or justice. Self interest.


Stage 3. Good boy/good girl orientation

Good behaviour is that which pleases others in the immediate group or which brings approval; the emphasis is on being ‘nice’. Whose approval do I seek?

Stage 4. Authority orientation

In this stage, the emphasis is on upholding law, order and authority, doing ones duty, and following social rules. What would traditional values say?


Stage 5. Social-contract orientation

Support of laws and rules is based on rational analysis and mutual agreement; rules are recognised as open to question but are upheld for the good of the community and in the name of democratic values. Social contract.

Stage 6. Morality of individual principles

Behaviour is directed by self-chosen ethical principles that tend to be general, comprehensive, or universal; high value placed on justice, dignity and equality.

3. Explore possible responses with students.

Possible  Responses:


Stage 1. Punishment orientation
 ‘He shouldn’t steal the drug because he could get caught and sent to jail.’ (avoiding punishment)

Stage 2. Pleasure-seeking orientation
 ‘It won’t do him any good to steal the drug because his wife will probably die before he gets out of jail’ (self-interest)


Stage 3. Good boy/good girl orientation
 ‘He shouldn’t steal the drug because others will think he is a thief. His wife would not want to be saved by thievery’ (avoiding disapproval)

Stage 4. Authority orientation.
 ‘Although his wife needs the drug,, he should not break the law to get it. Everyone is equal in the eyes of the law, and his wife’s condition does not justify stealing’ (traditional morality)


Stage 5. Social-contract orientation.
 ‘He should not steal the drug. The druggist’s decision us reprehensible, but mutual respect for the rights of others must be maintained. (social contract)

Stage 6. Morality of individual principles
 ‘He should steal the drug and then inform the authorities that he has done so. He will have to face the penalty, but he will have saved a human life’ (self chosen ethical principles) 

18 March 2012

Jesus Food

Strand(s):  The Bible and Theology

Year level: Middle school

Phase: Orient

Time: 1  lesson

Summary:  An activity for students to learn about food in the time of Jesus.

Students love this lesson!!!!  WARNING:  it does require a little preparation on the part of the teacher:  cooking and shopping.

Having familiarised themselves with a number of traditions, students participate in a breakfast, lunch, dinner activity.  Teachers can allot students to bring the necessary food, but it’s generally more successful if the school foots the bill as all ingredients will be there.  

For the cornmeal, yellow polenta is more authentic, but white tastes better.  Using tinned lentils instead of boiling them is a good idea…..less work.  Tinned tuna substitutes very well for the fish component and, again, is less work than cooking fresh fish.

Begin by showing a slide of DaVinci’s  Last Supper (as a model of how wrong the artists have got it!).  Point out that participants would have been seated on the floor, either at a very low table, or with food and utensils on a mat on the floor.  This can also lead to discussions on why the Last Supper is represented thus.   You can refer to scripture for support for this seating plan:  While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me–one who is eating with me(Mk 14:18).

It’s also more than likely participants would have been seated at a U-shaped or semicircular-shaped tabled.  Traditionally, the head of the table would have been seated at the far left-handed corner of the setting.  People would have sat on the outside of the table, thus allowing servants easy access.  E.P Sanders, in his text ‘Jesus Christ:  a cultural context’ also suggests that meals were very often shared communally, sometimes in a courtyard that backed on to the houses built around it.  People rose around 4:00am, worked until around 7:00am, then came in for their first meal.  They usually went to bed by 8:00pm.

Mary and Joseph lived just outside the market town of Nazareth, most probably in a one-roomed house. The floor of this room would have been at two levels; on the higher part Mary, Joseph and Jesus slept and ate. Bed making was easy. The beds consisted simply of a mattress to lie on and a woollen blanket to cover them. In the morning Mary would roll them up and put them to one side. What had been the bedroom would now be the living room and kitchen where Mary had to start thinking about what to make for the two cooked meals of the day.

This is a typical menu:·

Breakfast: Bread and olives. The bread might be dipped in a sauce in which olive oil was the main ingredient.

Lunch:   Lentils boiled in water or oil; corn porridge made with water, salt and butter, possibly  sweetened with honey or dried fruit.

Supper: Bread, raw cucumber, lettuce, onions, hot boiled fish from the Lake of Galilee and
yoghurt .

Mary could not make chips as there were no potatoes. There was also no coffee, bacon, tomatoes, apples, pears, bananas or chocolate at that time. Meat such as lamb, goat or
chicken was a rare luxury, and was only for the big feast of the year, Passover.

For a very special treat, some communities would indulge in fried grasshoppers dipped in honey.

(All RE ~ for Secondary Schools, St Paul's Publications, Slough, 1979, P.9)

Contributed by Karen Bonnini

12 March 2012

Profiling Jesus

Strand(s):  The Bible

Year level: Upper Primary, Middle school

Phase: Synthesise

Time: 1-3 lessons

Summary:  An approach to finding out about Jesus that allows learners to  be in control of the research process, while sharing their findings with each other. Could be used as part of a unit of work.

Students are to create an “FBI profile” of Jesus and his activities in Israel based on his life in the Gospels.

Use the Jigsaw approach (Innovative Teachers’ Companion:  Secondary Edition 2012, page 132, or see www.itcpublications.com.au )

1. Students are first put in home teams of five members and numbered 1 -5. Home teams are then rearranged into expert teams based around the number assigned. Eg. All number 1’s group together, all number 2’s group together.

2. Each expert team then researches the specialist topic assigned to them:
  1. Birth & Childhood
  2. Teaching
  3. Miracles and Healing
  4. Death (last week of life)
  5. Resurrection & Ascension. 

There are a few ways to provide this information.
  • Each expert group could be given a Bible passages from the Gospels relating to their topic.
  • Books about the life of Jesus designed for the classroom could be provided.
  • Students could be provided with access to the internet and guided to some useful webs sites.
  • A mixture of these resources could be provided. 

3. Each expert team should record their findings.

4. Expert teams then break up and return to form their home teams. Each home team should now  have an expert in each area. Each of the experts teaches the others what they have discovered in order to create the “FBI profile” for presentation.

5 March 2012

Baptism – Images and Ideas

Strand(s):  Christian Traditions

Year level: Upper Primary, Middle School, Senior School

Phase: Orient

Time: 20-30 min

Summary: A activity for exploring ideas about baptism.

Sometimes people have unusual ideas about what baptism is all about. This can be shaped by the stories or images they have in their head. The following activity explores some Biblical passages that relate to baptism.

Read or get the class to read Banjo Patterson’s A Bush Christening.
Alternatively some interesting and unusual readings can also be found on Youtube.

Depending on the age of students some unpacking of the poem might be needed before a discussion can be had of Maginnis’s understanding of Baptism, and what story shaped his ideas about it.

Students in groups then take one of the following readings and discuss how the story helps people to understand what happens in Baptism. 

Students then teach the rest of the class what they have learnt, specifically:
What happens in the reading?
How does it shape our understanding of baptism.

Acts 8: 26-40
Acts 19. 1- 7
Matthew 28.18-19
Mark 1.1-8
John 1.29-34
Exodus 14