Beliefs in action

16th January 2004 at 00:00
CHANGING LIVES. Video with teacher's book and student booklet Christian Aid, PO Box 95, Aldershot, Hants GU12 4BR, pound;16.99 Tel: 08700 787788

CHRISTIANITY ISLAM. By Sandra Palmer and Elaine McCreery. Photopacks with teacher's guides. PCET pound;23.49 each inc VAT. Badger Key Stage 3 RE Starters

By Helen Morrison, Jo Weir, Karen Saywood and Simone Whitehouse Teacher books with copymasters Badger Publishing pound;25

Changing Lives, the Christian Aid pack for key stage 34 RE, claims also to support citizenship and geography. The clearly presented video could also be used for KS2. The RE element is about assessing the beliefs that motivate Christian action. Seeing how beliefs inspire action in any religion isn't easy in our society, where children tend to think of religious beliefs as tick-box options in the attic of the human mind with no practical consequences.

But this pack links them well. The student booklet raises big questions that teachers will need to break down further to develop good GCSE records for their pupils. It also contains memorable facts - a European cow receives pound;1.50 a day in government subsidies, more than the pound;1.25 that half the world's people have to live on.

The teacher's book is useful for providing the factual background for GCSE.

While there is an overview of Christian Aid and how this relates to a Christian view of the world, the detailed case study is based on Kenya, rural and urban. Difficult accents are dubbed by actors and so become clear for the classroom.

Christian Aid is shown working with partner organisations such as the Anglican Church of Kenya. This gives teachers good footage for contrasts with the Anglican Church of England. The young Kenyans telling their stories do so with visible pride. In the shanties of Nairobi we are shown scenes about "flying toilets"'- plastic bags full of excrement from homes with no toilets - which simply have to be thrown away. The screen footage has an appropriate yuk factor.

These scenes contrast with others showing Christian Aid working with indigenous organisations such as Maji Na Ufanisi to produce community toilet blocks. In passing, we see footage of primary school collective worship, Kenyan style. In all, plenty for reflection in this pack.

PCET has a long and honourable role in RE and its latest offerings for KS2 and KS3 do not disappoint. Twenty lavish A4-size photograph-type illustrations per pack link to a photocopiable fact sheet, glossary, 10 questions - too often comprehension tasks - and extension activities. Rites of passage, pictures of worship, family observance, the 99 names for Allah, Christian religious icons are all included.

The pictures are of a standard far higher than could be reproduced in a textbook and although the size would restrict their use with a full class, a set of accompanying worksheets would enable them to be used for group work. Alternatively, they could be wall-mounted, where they would surpass the average poster.

Badger KS3 RE Starters comprise 40 photocopiable starter activities, with objectives, skills, approximate timing and adaptation suggestions included.

Because they do exactly what they claim - provide a start - they do not go into depth in any of their chosen subjects, nor do they develop sequentially.

In reality, they are a mixture of RE and PSE, and could be used in tutor-group time. These activities are a mixture of the useful, sometimes thought-provoking and sometimes things we are probably doing already.

A few veer towards KS2, such as the Buddhist precepts sheet and the Zakah starter. But the best could start a topic well.

Terence Copley is professor of religious education at Exeter University

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