Curriculum Design in Religious Education – #balancedRE

What do we want young people to get out of religious education? Basically, the ability to hold balanced and
informed conversations about religions and world views. OK, but what does that look like in reality? Well, like any area of study, religious education is multidisciplinary. There’s Theology, Philosophy and the Human/Social Sciences. By engaging with these disciplines, we want young people to have meaningful conversations about religions and worldviews. Think of it like sitting on a three-legged stool: we can talk, teach and learn from each other because the stools give us a secure place to sit. If one of the legs were shorter than the other, we’d fall off! So we have to make sure we get the balance right. That makes sense. So, what do you mean by ‘Theology’? Theology is about foundational beliefs and ideas. We hope pupils are given the opportunity to examine where ideas come from – the key sources of authority, alongside tradition, reason and experience – as well as their reliability and authority. Theology means looking at how these ideas have developed over time, how they shape the way believers see the world and how people interpret them differently. OK, what about Philosophy? A key feature of conversations about religion and belief throughout history is the human drive to ask questions about reality, about good and evil, about how we engage with the world around us. This is what we understand as Philosophy: it’s about thinking, it’s being aware of how we make judgements. Philosophy deals with questions of morality – you can’t have a conversation about religions and worldviews without it! And where do the human/social sciences fit into this? Well, it’s not just about foundational ideas or philosophical questioning. It’s also vital for young people to understand the lived and diverse reality of religions and worldviews. The human/social sciences seriously engage with the impact of beliefs on individuals, communities and societies. So, it’s about believing, thinking, and living, right? Exactly! And making sure those three elements are constantly interacting with each other. Ultimately, we want to empower young people to have conversations that are informed – because they have a real breadth of knowledge and understanding – and balanced because they’ve examined religions and worldviews through a variety of disciplines. Ultimately, it’s about giving them the academic opportunities to grow into free-thinking, critically aware, and compassionate adults.

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