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Humanities - Acting on your beliefs

Role-play helps make vital links

Role-play helps make vital links

Many students excel in understanding religious beliefs, but making the leap from beliefs to actions can be difficult for them - perhaps because their own actions come so naturally that they rarely stop to consider how the beliefs they hold have given rise to them. But role-play can help to overcome this blind spot.

Put students in groups of between three and five and ask them to discuss their beliefs about the world. Give them topic areas - for example, "what is cool?" or "what is a good aim in life?" Ask them to write down key beliefs they have for each topic. Next, get them to examine each belief and give an example of how it might influence their behaviour. By thinking about how their beliefs affect their actions, they will find it easier to make links when it comes to religion.

When focusing on a religion, identify key beliefs - one for each group - and get them to create a role-play around it. For example, if a group has the Muslim belief of zakat, where followers are expected to donate part of their wealth to help the poor, the role-play should show the possible effects on a believer's behaviour. Groups can take turns to show the role- play to the class. The "audience" then tries to identify the belief and decide if they agree with the group's interpretation of how it might affect behaviour.

The critical thing is to help students think about how religious beliefs affect people's actions and reactions - and help them realise that religious theory and belief are not isolated from real-life decision- making.

Mike Gershon is a religious studies and social science teacher at Pimlico Academy, London

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