Some religions believe in one god, others in many gods. What do pupils think all religions should teach people? Ask them to write down their own list, then compare lists in a small group and try to agree on the three most important ideas. Ask pupils to write a story about a football fan who, walking home from a match, comes across a fan of the opposing team (a bitter rival) lying badly wounded after a fight with the hero's own team supporters. What happens next?
Do students think that strict religions are unfair in their attitude to women? Get them to think of all the ways they know of in the mainstream faiths (Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism and so on) in which women are discriminated against. Why might this have come about? Is it changing? Ask them to write a short essay, organising the information and giving their views.
"Dost think because thou are virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?" Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice, Act II scene 3. Sir Toby Belch is describing the puritanical Malvolio. How far do students think the audience is on Sir Toby's side, and how far on Malvolio's?
In "Last Lines", by Emily Bronte, the poet is crushing in her dismissal of "the thousand creeds That move men's hearts". What does she believe in? Students could examine how she uses a contrasting combination of emotive, abstract vocabulary and simple, concrete images to declare her point of view.