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.

28 November 2013

Where do you stand?


What do students know about the topic or area of knowledge you are about to explore? This is an important question at the beginning of an unit. One way of exploring this is to do Nilson's “Common Sense Inventory” where students have to decide if statements related to the course content are true or false. It can begin with a paired or small group discussion giving students time to discuss and decide before you reveal the answer. Alternatively students could decide for themselves and move to one or other side of the classroom designated as true or false.

A similar exercise focusing not on facts but on personal opinion or belief could also be used.

Students are asked to stand in the middle of classroom. One side of the class is designated as strongly agree, one side is strongly disagree. These words may be written on either side of the white board in order to remind students. Various values related statements are read aloud and students must move to one side of the class or the other depending on where they stand in relation to the issue.
While students may be given the choice to stand in the middle often this an easy way out of standing somewhere definite. Encourage students to move by getting everyone back into the centre before reading the next statement.
After a statement is read out students may be given the opportunity to say why they agree or disagree with a particular statement. In this phase of the lesson you might discourage students from debating the topic so that a range of views can be heard. Guidance might need to be given in regards to the grounding of statements for example instead of saying: Euthanasia is wrong because.... they should be encouraged to say: I believe euthanasia is wrong because... 


26 November 2013

Starting the year right



The first religious education class for the year or even for a unit is an important one. There are a whole lot of things that a teacher wants to achieve. These include: 
  • introducing yourself
  • creating positive first impressions
  • exploring  learning objectives and outcomes
  • setting the tone for the unit of work
  • finding out about students’ knowledge  of the topic
  • gauging students motivation for the topic
  • getting students interested and excited about the unit

Over the next few blog posts we will explore some ways to do the last four of these which hopefully might also help with the first three as well. But first I want to throw it over to you. What is your most brilliant strategy for starting a new unit of work in religious or Christian education?

21 November 2013

All religions aren't the same...but...


I get twitchy when I hear students say "all religions are the same". In essence they are trying to say that at the heart of it all religions are on about the same stuff. Even superficially this statement is clearly not true. The closer you look the more obvious it becomes that different religious groups hold different beliefs, are motivated by different things and act in different ways. However, this is not to say that there aren't  things that we have in common. 

While my hope is that students might see clearly the differences between world religions I would also like them to see the good things held in common. One of these things is the idea of the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like them to treat you. This concept spans many religions and philosophies and hopefully reminds us that we need to be compassionate, generous and kind to those around us not matter who they are or what they believe. 

St Columbans Mission Society sell a poster with the Golden Rule as found in thirteen different religions. This can be a great reminder in our multicultural multifaith schools that although we may have many different beliefs, it is likely that our own faith tradition encourages us to treat one another in positive and life giving ways. It is something we can share together as we strive to love one other.

There are also some helpful resources that could be used in the classroom.

16 November 2013

A Very Angry Christmas Quiz Part 2




As a follow up to "A Very Angry Nativity Quiz" a friend of mine Tom sent me this video "Retooning the Nativity" which highlights the differences between the traditional popular nativity scene and what we find in scripture. I always make sure I say to children that it doesn't matter if there were three wise men or more. It doesn't matter that we flesh out the story a bit in our imagination. The important thing is to go to the heart of  what it is about: Emmanuel - God with us.

11 November 2013

What did the nativity smell like?




Strand(s):  The Bible

Year level: Lower Primary, Upper Primary,

Phase: Enhance

Time: 20 -30 minutes

One way of helping students to engage with the text of the Bible is to get them use their imagination and senses.

A simple Y Chart can be helpful for this.







Provide students with a copy of the infancy narrative from Luke 2.1-21. As they read it have them fill out a y chart. The headings: feels like, sounds like, looks like, might be used to help students explore the mood and details of the events expressed in the text. Alternatively looks like, smells like, sounds like could also be used. Encourage students to use their imagination and to think about the sights, sounds and smell they would experience if they were there.


An alternate way of exploring the infancy narratives would be to bring some things into the classroom to touch and smell such as hay and lambs wool. 

6 November 2013

Atheism in the RE Classroom


An interesting article in The Guardian in England about the place of atheism and humanism in the RE classroom. In Anglican Schools we have a greater emphasis on the Christian faith but to what degree should we be exploring the religion or lack of it, of those in the class? In Australia there is a growing number of students who claim no religious belief.

4 November 2013

Bible Jamming


Bible Jamming is something I learnt from a Scripture Union Victoria staff member several years ago and I love it. I have used it with a range of ages from about Year 4 to the elderly. It it fun, engaging and it helps participants see what is in a passage of scripture more clearly. It also helps people see things they didn't see before. You can find the link the SUV pdf on Bible Jamming here but I will tell you how I use it.

I always explain the whole process with a new group before I start and then remind them what is next each round. I find it works best when you are using a narrative but I haven't played with non narratives much. I always use the approach below but as the PDF says a range of steps in different orders could be used. I also usually pick a passage that is at least a few verses longer than the number in the group. I would also say that it probably works best with a group between 5 -10 in size. Below is the approach I usually use.

Round 1 - One person reads the whole passage through out loud 

Round 2 - Each person reads one verse around the group until it is finished.

Round 3 - Someone starts and the next person picks up when/where the first stops. The reader can read as little or as much as they like including a phrase or even a single word. 

Round  4 - Cut in” or (interrupt) one another.. mid-verse or wherever! 

Round 5 - Read only the dialogue (leave out narration or thoughts) 

Round 6 - Reading random verse(s) or phrases until someone reads the last verse

The key to this approach is to have some fun and play with the passage.

As the SUV page says:

"In a passive consumption-of-entertainment culture and decreasing interest in reading this cheeky method increases active involvement and reading of our formative text. It has also been useful in helping people get into the Bible but with a less linear or prescribed mindset. "

30 October 2013

Spotlight on the Bible


This is simple but creative way to engage students with a Bible text especially if it is in the form of a narrative. Ask students to imagine that the passage is in the form of a stage play in which the spotlight shifts from character to character depending on where the action is. Have the students work their way through the story highlighting where the spotlight would be shining at each step. This technique encourages students to focus more carefully on what is happening in the narrative and may also help them to see important parts of the story.

Another similar tool is to ask students to think about the mood of the passage and have them list possible popular songs that might be suitable music for the background of the story.

10 October 2013

A Very Angry Christmas Quiz


This quiz has circulated around the internet for a long time. I have used it with a variety of age groups. I have often found that students get a bit angry and incredulous when the answers are revealed. They find it outrageous that the 'facts' they know about the Christmas story don't really appear in the Bible but are the result of tradition. In fact while many of the things we have added in tradition may be reasonable assumptions this quiz is a good reminder to us all at Christmas to go back to the source of the nativity stories. Children can find this quiz confronting and I have even had students say to me: Do you even read the Bible?!?!

This is a great opportunity to get students interested in reading the nativity narratives and looking at the closely. Have fun and be prepared for the wrath of your students.

The Questions

1. How many wise men were there?
a. 3
b. 4
c. The Bible does not say.

2. Did Joseph meet the wise men?
a. Yes
b. No
c. The Bible does not say.

3. What animal did Mary ride to Bethlehem?
a. Donkey
b. Small horse
c. Llama
d. The Bible does not say
.
4. The Holy Family named the child "Jesus" because:
a. An Angel told Mary to use the name.
b. An Angel told Joseph to use the name.
c. All of the above.
d. None of the above.

5. What type of building was Jesus born in?
a. Stable
b. Cave
c. Inn
d. The Bible does not say.

6. What animals were present at the Nativity?
a. Cattle
b. Sheep
c. Doves
d. All of the above
e. The Bible does not say.

7. Who besides the wise men saw the star?
a. The shepherds
b. King Herod's astrologers
c. The Bible does not say.

8. How did the star compare in brightness with the other stars?
a. Brighter
b. Equivalent
c. A faint glow over the horizon.
d. The Bible does not say.

9. How soon after Joseph and Mary reached Bethlehem was Jesus born?
a. Within minutes.
b. That night
c. The Bible does not say.

The Answers

1. How many wise men were there?
c. The Bible does not say.

Although tradition suggests there were three wisemen, as in the carol "We Three Kings of Orient Are," the Bible actually does not give the number of Magi. Go to Biblical account of the Magi in Matthew).

2. Did Joseph meet the wise men?
c. The Bible does not say.

Matthew writes that the magi found the Child with Mary, but makes no mention of Joseph. Matthew 2:9-11. Of course, as a good parent, we would probably expect Joseph to have been there.'

3. What animal did Mary ride to Bethlehem?
d. The Bible does not say.

Although it would be a long walk for a pregnant woman from Nazareth to Bethlehem, the Bible does not mention what animal, if any, Mary rode. Luke 2:4-6

4. The Holy Family named the child "Jesus" because:
c. All of the above.

In Luke, the Angel Gabriel tells Mary to use the name "Jesus." Luke 1:30-31 . In Matthew, an angel tells Joseph to use the name. Matthew 1:20-21

5. What type of building was Jesus born in?
d. The Bible does not say.

Although Luke tells us that the baby was placed in a manger, there is no mention of where the manger was located. Luke 2:6-8

6. What animals were present at the Nativity?
e. The Bible does not say.

Despite the line in Away in a Manger that "the cattle were lowing, the poor baby wakes," there is no mention of which animals were present at the Nativity. Luke 2:6-8

7. Who besides the wise men saw the star?
c. The Bible does not say.

Check Matthew's account.

8. How did the star compare in brightness with the other stars?
d. The Bible does not say.

Check Matthew's account.

9. How soon after Joseph and Mary reached Bethlehem was Jesus born?

c. The Bible does not say.

Although every Sunday school Christmas pageant has Mary deliver a baby moments after Mary and Joseph are turned away from the inn, the Bible does not specify a time period. Check Luke's account.

1 October 2013

The Nativity Factor


A few weeks ago we were talking about movie making as a way of engaging students with the Bible. Here is a fantastic example of that and an idea for Religious Education classes as the move towards the end of the year.

The Nativity Factor is a competition that has run for the last three years and offers a prize of 5000 pounds ,but only to those living in the UK. The competition requires people to make a video retelling the Christmas story in 3 minutes or less.

This would be a fantastic group activity for students and might require them to engage with the Biblical texts in order to tell the story well. It would also be interesting to watch some of the videos and see how correct that get the story when compared to Biblical accounts.

The winners from the last two years can be seen below.More can be found at the Youtube channel here.






26 September 2013

Tony Blair Faith Foundation


The Tony Blair Faith Foundation website is well worth having a look at. It would definitely be a useful resources when engaging students with the topic of world religions.

"The Tony Blair Faith Foundation provides leaders with the knowledge and analysis to understand the impact and complexity of religion in the world. We empower young people with the knowledge and skills to understand religion, opening their minds to respect and not fear difference, and to resist extremist voices. The Foundation works in some of the world’s toughest situations where we offer bold, practical and innovative solutions where there is real need."

There are at least three things that would be of great value to religious educators on this site:

1.  Faith Stories

"Faith Stories is a collection of personal stories of faith, friendship, conflict and dialogue from across the world. We’ve interviewed people from every continent, looking for honest and insightful reflections on people’s own faiths and their encounters with people of other religions."

This is a useful resource for helping students to engage with some of the issues that are occurring around the world for people of faith from a very personal perspective.

2. Face to Faith

"Face to Faith brings students of different religions and cultures together using digital technology to connect schools in 19 countries."

This is an amazing initiative using current technology to get students from around the world and from different faiths talking.

3. Face to Faith Learning Resources

"We think that it is very important to remember that, by giving students the opportunity to explore ideas of faith, belief and identity in a safe, supportive and open environment, where they learn to respectfully encounter others, teachers are giving them the skills that they need to protect their students from the voices of extremism later in life."

The Face to Faith program also provides learning resources for registered schools.

18 September 2013

Movie Making as Bible Engagement Part 2




Need a way to get students interacting with the Biblical text that is engaging both in terms of content and strategy?

Okay, we’ll get to that.  First off, have you seen that app that is gaining great popularity amongst phone users called Vine?  This app allows users to create a six or seven second video that can be uploaded to other suers of the app or through Twitter. 

People are using this app to make videos that are everything from comedy skits to social comments to fake trailers for films to ...whatever you can think of.  If you google “best Vines compilation” you’ll be able to watch numerous examples to get an idea.

The point for us as teachers is that the idea of a seven second video as an interesting way to communicate has now become accepted amongst secondary students.  So....

The next time you want students to engage with a story from the Bible why not have students:

  • Examine the Bible story and identify the “story beats” as a F&TV teacher would say. 

For instance, Noah’s Ark? 
a.    People are being pretty bad and God is upset
b.    God picks Noah  and gives him instructions
c.    Noah builds the ark and his neighbours pick on him
d.    Noah loads the animals into the ark
e.    Rain starts and the flood ensues
f.     The ark is safe for forty days
g.    Noah receives the message that land has appeared again
h.    God makes a promise to Noah
  • Divide your class into groups, one per story beat.
  • Have students create a ‘vine’ for their story beat.  It might be one that

a.    Captures the emotion of their part of the story, or
b.    Actually recreates their part of the story
  • Now re-read the story acting as a narrator and play each vine at the appropriate moment on the class data projector so that all can see.You can use the app to do this though you don’t need to if that would be a problem.  If it is then students can film with their normal phone cameras and message the video footage to you, or alternately, just plug each phone in to the class technology at the appropriate moment.  Or you can collect the video footage, assemble it together with Windows Movie Maker or iMovie  in a minute or two and play it next lesson with your narration.

 Guest Poster: Jonathan Sargeant

10 September 2013

Movie Making as Bible Engagement



This is a fantastic little video! It would be great to see students creating movies like this in Religious Education classes. It has the potential to be a powerful way of engaging students with Biblical texts. Not only does it get them to pay close attention to what is happening in the narrative but it gets them thinking about how they might present it and therefore which bits are important. Even the selection of music to play in the background requires students to think about the mood of the narrative at each point. Taking a text and turning it into a film naturally requires some degree of interpretation and contextualisation. A great activity for students from upper primary to senior school.

4 September 2013

ABC - Religion and Ethics


The ABC Religion and Ethics page is a good place to find articles and opinion pieces relating to religious affairs within Australia. This could be a useful source for topics of discussion in senior school religious or Christian education classes. 

The article in the picture above which can be found here talks about how religious Australian's former Prime Ministers were. This opens up a whole range of issues for discussion. For instance the topic of religion vs spirituality. Are they the same thing? What does it mean to be religious? Can you be a Christian and not religious? What is the role of religion and politics? Should a Prime Minister bring their faith to their decision making?

The author comes up with eight criteria for assessing the religiosity of the former Prime Ministers. They include:
  • Theology
  • Evangelism
  • Moral courage
  • War and peace
  • Egalitarianism
  • Social conservatism and a righteous private life
  • The respect of one's peers
  • Racial tolerance
Do you students think this is a good list of criteria for judging someone's faith? Why or why not? What else should be there or should be left off?

29 August 2013

Science and Faith: What is the problem?


Science and Faith: What is the problem? was recently launched at the Anglican Schools Australia Conference. One of the authors Richard Prideaux is Campus Principal at an Anglican School in Victoria.

This is the blurb from the site selling the book:

A physicist and a theologian explore the limits of science and the challenge of faith in God in a postmodern world. A resource book for senior students, teachers and anyone who cares about the future of the planet and how we live on it.
The two authors tackle the vitally important area of science and religion and provide a valuable overview and useful guide. They tell the stories, clarify the issues, fill the gaps, provide the background and correct common mistakes.
“The book provides a good balance of breadth of subject and depth of understanding. Written for non-specialist readers, this book will challenge all who read it to think through these issues more deeply.”
Canon Dr Peter Adam, Vicar Emeritus St Jude’s Anglican Church, Carlton; formerly Principal Ridley Melbourne

To purchase the book or to see a sample go to this link.

21 August 2013

Glo Bible


Glo is an interactive Bible. It can be installed on a range of platforms including the IPad. As a Bible it has four different translations - NIV, ESV, The Message and KJV. It is all the other features however that make this software useful for the classroom. These include:

  • Resources and media for passages of scripture.
  • An Atlas that allows you to see where stories of the Bible occurred.
  • Tours, photos, videos and virtual reality experiences.
  • Timelines - enabling a chronological exploration of the Bible
  • Topical organisation addressing significant issues relating to the Christian faith.
Glo has an interesting interface that students will pick up quickly. It is likely they will want to explore the different features and videos to be found on Glo. 

There is a free edition with limited features that can be used to explore what Glo is like.


30 July 2013

Chasing God


Chasing God  is by no means a new resources but it is a valuable one for exploring topics like world religions or the philosophy of religion. In essence it is a documentary exploring a range of question about God from the perspectives of people from many different religions. The website for it can be found here:


The blurb  says:

"In times of upheaval, people seek solace in a higher power. Three quarters of the world's population has faith in a God. If they are right, who is this higher power? This film tackles the eternal question: Why do humans believe? Narrated by Dawn French and starring an Atheist (Australia's Phillip Adams), a Sikh, a Buddhist, a Pastor, a Scientist, a Muslim, a Rabbi, a Guru, a Sufi, a Researcher, a Spiritual Elder and a Cardinal."

The video can probably still be bought from the website but it can also be watched online.

There is a study guide which may be of some use in the classroom. 

17 July 2013

God and Music



“I play the notes as they are written, but it is God who makes the music.”
― Johann Sebastian Bach

“The final aim and reason of all music is nothing other than the glorification of God 
and the refreshment of the spirit.”
― Johann Sebastian Bach

Music is an important part of the life of many young people.

Research released by Philip Hughes last year had young people listing music as the top way they deal with the challenges of life and one of their top ways for achieving peace and happiness.

Much of the best music ever written in the West has deep roots in Christian spirituality and even today many “secular” bands continue to incorporate spiritual and Christian themes throughout their music.

So why wouldn't we be using this obvious resource for religious and Christian education.

What might a unit based around God, spirituality and music look like?
There are three approaches that come to mind for me, depending on what you hope to achieve. A blend of all of them might be most desirable and would allow students not only to learn about Christianity but also from it.

Approach 1: The development of Christian music

In this approach a survey might be done of Christian music throughout the ages. A unit like this might explore some of the following questions:
  • what is sacred/religious music?
  • are there different types?
  • why is it important?
  • what it is used for?
  • how does the artists perceive God’s involvement?
  • does sacred music differ to music with spiritual themes?
  • what impact does sacred or spiritual music have on Christians and people in general?
  • what does the importance of music in Christianity tell us about how they perceive God?

Throughout this exploration use the music to help answer the questions above.

You could explore:
  • Gregorian and other types of chant
  • Classical Music with Christian themes
  • Hymns and Psalmody
  • Christian rock and roll and hip hop
  • Modern worship music


Approach 2:  Music and Spirituality

A second approach would be to listen to, discuss and analyse modern or ancient songs that deal with issues affecting the live of students. The songs chosen should be ones that seek to reference the Christian faith or Christian themes in some way. These songs don’t need to put a positive spin on everything but should somehow draw on the stories, motivations or beliefs of Christianity.
In this unit some of the following questions might be explored:
  • Why is music so deeply connected with spirituality?
  • Why do secular artists incorporate Christian or spiritual themes into their music?
  • How can music help people deal with problems?
  • Is there a difference between Christian music and music written by Christians?
  • How does music influence peoples thinking?


Approach 3: Exploring Christianity through Music


With this approach some of the key themes of Christianity could be explored through music either ancient or modern. These themes could include:
  • creation
  • Jesus
  • sin
  • redemption
  • community
  • love 
  • service
  • justice
  • forgiveness

Use music to explore what different people have to say about these topics through their music. Investigate how these ideas are similar or different to Christian theologies.

Just thinking about the idea of a unit relating to God and music made the following songs pop into my limited imagination. Some of these draw on Christian tradition and some on the beliefs of other religions or on popular spirituality. There are a million songs that could be helpful, many more modern than these.
  • The Outlaw - Larry Norman
  • Audience with the Devil - Hilltop Hoods
  • Highwayman - Johnny Cash
  • Take my life - Garage Hymnal

8 July 2013

Islam in the media


I am always interested in the way that the media portrays religion and religious belief. This being the case I was interested to read: Rachel Woodlock tells how her conversion to Islam was a personal awakening.

The article on news.com.au is promoting the book: For God's Sake: An Atheist, A Jew, A Christian and a Muslim Debate Religion by Jane Caro, Antony Loewenstein, Simon Smart and Rachel Woodlock. A review of it can be found here in the Australian

A few weeks ago on this blog there was a post about the way that different religious groups are trying to shape the way society perceives them. Islam as a religion certainly has a battle on its hands overcoming years of negative press if it seeks to do the same. The question may be asked if this article fits in to this category. While the article is to help promote the book, it focuses primarily on Rachel Woodlock's conversion to Islam and how it has changed her life. The intention of the article is certainly to make Islam seem quite normal and ordinary to everyday Australians.

It is fascinating that in a media landscape often drenched in negativity towards religion an article like this can still make an appearance.

This article might be helpful in exploring perceptions of  religion on Australia or the media's treatment of religious groups. The book may be useful in exploring religion and non religious world-views.



3 July 2013

Bible Genres – Exploring Psalms


Strand(s):  The Bible and Theology

Year level: Upper Primary

Phase: Entire Lesson

Time:  40 minutes +

Summary: This is a lesson for exploring genres in the Bible, specifically that of Psalms.

In an earlier blog post we discussed one way of exploring genres in the Bible. Here is a lesson looking at the genre of Psalms. Psalms might be compared to poetry or song in their function and intention.

Poetry is one of the best ways of expressing ideas and feelings that cannot be put into ordinary language. Often it uses metaphor, simile and imagery to describe the focus on the poem.

Orient:
  • Have students discuss what poetry is like.
  • Read a favourite poem and ask students what the feeling of the poem is. 
There is much writing that is similar to poetry throughout the whole Bible. In particular the book of Psalms contains writing about God and the experience of God’s people that is in a somewhat poetic form. Psalms may be understood more effectively if we treat them like poems or songs that are trying to express deep emotion and thought.

Enhance: 
  • Have students read Psalm 23.
  • Ask them what they notice and what the features of the psalm are?
(Alternatively you could have them watch some Psalm presentations through Youtube such as Psalm 23 or Psalm 139 . There are many more available with a little searching.)
  • Invite students to find a psalm in the Bible and answer the following questions. 
  • Have students share with one another or the rest of the class what they discovered.

 (Students might need some guidance in the Book of Psalms as the referencing for them is slightly different to other sections of the Bible.)

Questions:
  • Which Psalm did you choose?
  • What is the mood of the Psalm? Is the Psalm happy, sad, angry, scared?
  • How intense is the feeling of the Psalm on a scale of one to ten:

One:                                                                                                                Ten:
Not Very emotional                                                                            Very emotional
  • What are some of the images in the Psalm? (Word pictures such as “the Lord is my Shepherd”)
  • What is the writer of the Psalm trying to say to God or about God?
  • Did anything surprise you about the Psalm?

Synthesise:
  • Have students write their own Psalm.

28 June 2013

Centre for Public Christianity


The Centre for Public Christianity has a website that would be a useful resource for religious educators in Australia.

From their website:

"The Centre for Public Christianity (CPX) is a not-for-profit media company that offers a Christian perspective on contemporary life. We seek to promote the public understanding of the Christian faith by engaging mainstream media and the general public with high quality and well-researched print, video and audio material about the relevance of Christianity in the 21st century."

There are articles and resources on many relevant topics including: big questions, world religions, science and faith, society and politics, history, the arts, ethics and lives of faith.

Many of these articles would be suitable for engaging students in the senior years and for educators to learn more about their area of expertise.

26 June 2013

Selling Religion


In recent years different religious groups in Australia has sought to change the public's perception of them through the use of television commercials. One of these campaigns put out by the Mormon's (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) attempted, somewhat successfully, in projecting the image that they were just ordinary people (although in many cases exceptional, charismatic and talented).



The Church of Scientology also used an ad in Melbourne for the launch of a new centre. This ad had previously been used for the Super-bowl. Once again it seeks to project a particular image of Scientologists as being independent, free thinking seekers (the ad is a bit like an Apple ad).


I wonder what your students might come up with if they were asked to create an ad for Christian's in Australia? How do they think Christian's are currently perceived? What image might they think is helpful for the world to see? What images or ideas might they use?

24 June 2013

Sacred spaces and places


Strand(s):  World Religions

Year level: Upper Primary

Phase: Unit Idea

Time: N/A

Summary: Exploring sacred places and spaces can be a great way of helping students to explore religions of the world.

[If something is sacred or holy it means at the most basic level that it is set aside for special purposes, religious purposes, or is seen as different or separate from other ordinary places because of what happened there or its function.]

Sacred space is common to almost all world religions and yet serves a variety of different functions and holds different meanings for different groups.

Sacred space is special for many reasons, including: 
  • History – the special event that occurred there.
  • Remembrance - It reminds us of important stories.
  • Function - It is the space the religious community comes to worship.

 A unit exploring sacred spaces might seek to cover the following things: 
  • familiarity with the concept of sacred space.
  • exploration of the holy places of other world religions including design, function and decoration.
  • identifying the sacred spaces of other world religions
  • discussing the function of the sacred space in other world religions.
  • exploration of a local holy place – church, mosque, synagogue, temple etc.

One way of beginning to engage students with a unit of sacred space might be to explore it conceptually with them.

This could start by helping them explore places that are special to them or to their country. These could include special places of family or national history. In Australian culture Gallipoli has the sense of being sacred space because of the events that took place there and how they have contributed to shaping our national identity. Explore with students what makes these places as special, how people might treat that place and why? This discussion can help to build a  bridge to religious sacred spaces. Another helpful Australian sacred place is Uluhru.

 One way of helping students explore the sacred places of different world religions would be to explore their places of worship as a research activity. With students provided with the name of a world religion they can then set about answering the following questions: 
  • What is the name of the place of worship in your world religion?
  • What are the special features of the building?
  • What happens in the building?
  • What are the names of the things in the building and what are they used for?
  • How often is the building used?

 Two websites that might be useful are:


This site has  information and images of many sacred places from around the world.


This site has 360 pictures of many sacred spaces and places of worship from around the world.