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 July 2016

No such thing as "no religion"

You may be aware that the Australian Census is almost upon us (August 9). You may not be aware that there has been a campaign run this year by Atheist and Rationalist groups to encourage Australians to think seriously about what it means to indicate you are an adherent of particular religion. Specifically they are encouraging those who might tick the box of a Christian denomination to tick 'no religion' unless you can affirm all elements of the Nicene Creed. They even outline why going to church doesn't make you a Christian. This campaign coincides with the 'no religion' box being taken to the top of the list on the census form.

This is a great opportunity to explore with students what it actually means to be a Christian or belong to a religious group. There are plenty of resources to draw on. It may be valuable to start by exploring what students think it might mean to belong to or identify with a particular religion. One question that could be explored is: Can you be a Christian and not go to church? or conversely: Can you go to church and not be a Christian?

Smart's Dimensions of Religion could be a useful framework for exploring a range of elements that adherents might subscribe to or participate in.

The website of the 'No Religion' campaign would also be a good resource to explore. Students could uncover how the campaigners define religious adherence and evaluate it in light of what has already been discussed. There are a number of editorials and news articles that have been written about this and would be useful fodder for debate. A few are listed here:

The last article by Michael Jensen is particularly useful in that it poses the idea that all people are 'religious'.

The ABS also has an interesting article from 2013 called 'Losing My Religion' which explores the growth of ticking the 'no religion' box across Australian census history.

The Centre for Public Christianity has a number of articles on changes in religious affiliation in Australia and the census that would be worth exploring.

One of the questions that should also be explored with students is: What do religious groups and particularly Christian groups contribute to Australian society? What is the evidence?

22 July 2016

What is Anglican worship like?

It is interesting to explore with students the many commonalities and differences that exist in Anglican worship across the world. As a resource I thought I might put up some YouTube clips of worship from Anglican Churches from across the Communion. Many of these clips  may be atypical of Anglicanism but would still be found in Dioceses everywhere, some more frequently than others. Enjoy!

I thought I would start with the most formal style of worship a Solemn High Mass at St Matthias' Anglican Church.

At the other end of the spectrum is a praise and worship service from the Anglican Cathedral in Sabah.

It is interesting to see how some African worship combines more formal elements of Anglican worship with the energy of their own culture which incorporates dance.

Finally I couldn't help posting the following video which demonstrates how some churches seek to engage young people with the Eucharist. I wonder what you think about this approach? Has it gone too far or is it okay to do things like this?

I wonder what your students would make of all these different types of worship? What unity might they find between them? What would they find appealing themselves? What are their expectations of worship?

14 July 2016

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... 

5 July 2016

Multiple Intelligences and the Bible

Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences are a useful tool for engaging students in the many different ways they learn and experience the world. When used creatively they can also open up experiences that transform the learner. Below are some basic ideas for using Multiple Intelligences when engaging with Biblical narratives. With all of these activities appropriate passages of scripture need to be chosen.

Music Rhythmic (Music Smart)
After reading a chosen passage of scripture invite students to listen to some brief excerpts of different types of music. Try to find music with different moods. Ask students to choose which piece of music they think goes best with the reading. The passage can then be read with that piece of music playing quietly underneath.

Naturalistic (Nature Smart)
The sounds, textures and smells of a Bible story may help many students to engage with it in a memorable way. Nature sound tracks can be used for some passages that take place at the beach or in the desert. The smells and textures of the story can be brought into the classroom such as the smell of cooking fish or the touch of sand. Jesus often told stories using real objects that can be put in students hands to see, touch and smell. Ideally some stories might be told outside looking at the things Jesus spoke about.

Bodily Kinaesthetic (Movement Smart)
Building and making can be an important tool for unlocking kinaesthetic children’s learning. Lego or other building and play materials might be used to help recreate a story that students have just heard told. Photos of the construction at different points of the story could be taken, so students can create a sequential picture book.

Intrapersonal  (Self Smart)
Many Biblical narratives can be rewritten in a way that invites students to go on a journey of the imagination. This can begin by asking them to imagine that they are in the story watching what is going on. Encourage them to picture everything in the story including the sights, sounds and smells. Ask them to imagine how they feel or what they think when different events occur. 

Verbal-Linguistic (Word Smart)
There are many excellent Bible’s on CD or MP3 available these days. The best include high quality sound effects and musical scores in the background. Using one of these can provide an alternate way for students to hear the story being explored.