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.

27 August 2014

Using your brain is fun!

 The Philosophy Man

Religious Education is fun too!

I imagine that for many students this statement and the one in the title are not true. Their experience of school and the classroom, what they may equate with learning and therefore using their brain has not been fun. I also suspect that for many students religious education, in particular, has not been fun. 

But what is this talk of fun? What has fun got to do with anything?

By fun I mean stimulating, enjoyable, engaging, an experience of that magical thing called "flow". 

"Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does". ~ Wikipaedia

I don't know about you but this definition of flow is what I would hope students might experience while learning and in the religious education classroom. No doubt there is some boring stuff that just has to be done (I guess??) but in every lesson we should try to do something that might excite students, engage them, fill them with wonder, make them curious, have them wanting to argue. You get the picture.  Now while we can't guarantee this will happen, we can strive for it by using creative and engaging pedagogy. 

So...after that long winded introductory rant...check out "The Philosophy Man". Jason Buckley's website and resources are based around Philosophy for Children (P4C). I signed up and got the first email and I was pretty delighted with what I received. The activities could be directly used in the RE classroom to fire up student's critical thinking and imagination. Alternatively the activities could be adapted to other areas of religious education. Some of these activities could be used to start the lesson and engage students early on.

Often in the religious education classroom we can be concerned with communicating a particular message and we are answering questions that students haven't even asked yet. It must be a priority to help students think about life and what it means, and begin wondering, and articulating their questions. When this happens we have an opportunity to walk with students and help them to explore. 


21 August 2014

The Question Quadrant

Not the Bible?! How can we engage students who may be suspicious or apathetic about Biblical narratives. How can we focus their attention and enable them to look and see and play and learn? The use of creative pedagogy is critical, and good questions can be a big part of this. If we can ask intriguing questions and help students to do the same, all kinds of wonderful discoveries can be made. (This is my formula "creative pedagogy" leads to "Bible engagement" resulting in "wonderful discoveries".)

At the recent DAN workshop, Brian Poxon, demonstrated the use of the Question Quadrant developed by Phil Cam, and adapted to be used with narratives. It revolves around exploring questions in four areas. Teachers could provide these questions but it would probably be richer for students to create their own once they understand each quadrant. The following examples should provide a guide for the type of question used in each quadrant, but you may like to check out Phil Cam's book Twenty Thinking Tools. The responses to each of these questions would provide ample material for some very significant exploration and discussion in class.

Stimulus: Goldilocks and the Three Bears
In the text:
What did Goldilocks do in the bear’s house?
Imagine a possibility:
What would have happened if the bears had come home early?
Ask an expert:
Do bear’s eat people?
Is stealing when hungry wrong?
Stimulus: The story of the prodigal son
In the text:
How did the son get his money?
Imagine a possibility:
Did the other son forgive his younger brother?
Ask an expert:
What do pigs eat?
Is loyalty better than honesty?
Can God be just and forgiving?
Stimulus: The story of Abraham and Isaac
In the text:
How many sons did Abraham have?
Imagine a possibility:
Did Isaac forgive his father?
Ask an expert:
How old was Isaac at the time?
Can God ask you to do unethical things?