Faith in our time

11th March 2005 at 00:00
Gerald Haigh recommends electronic resources for introducing children to major world religions

There's "learning about" religion and there's "learning from" religion. RE teachers have to consider both in their teaching. Clearly, "learning about" seems relatively straightforward - facts about places of worship, holy books, symbols, beliefs. That, in fact, is what we have from Sherston Software in Faiths and Celebrations, which in effect is a talking interactive book for key stage 1 that takes the six major faiths - Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Judaism - and presents a list of topics about each.

Click on "Islam" and you then have nine further subjects such as "Allah", "The Five Pillars" and "Mosque". Each of these has a series of still pictures and a factual sentence and at intervals there's a little "true or false" test. It's a good, clear and easy-to-use starter activity on the major faiths. At this level you accept some simplification (not all Christians practise infant baptism, for example), which foreshadow issues the teacher will face as the children grow in the subject.

There's a welcome range of technical options such as an "inclusion and support" section that enables a wide variety of changes to be made to features such as access, colours and font sizes.

"Learning from" is more difficult, because it calls for a questioning, discursive approach. Kar2ouche, though - Immersive's software system - is well equipped for the task. Essentially, it's a suite of tools that enables the pupil to choose characters, backgrounds, music and props, and then build his or her own story, adding speech, sounds and music.

The flexibility is impressive - using digital photographs, for example, and recordings made in school or at home, a whole story board could be set in familiar surroundings. The graphics are not Shrek standard, but today's children are screen-literate enough to accept them readily.

This is Immersive's first RE title. Developed in consultation with faith leaders, it explores how the media tackles religion, how religions deal with forgiveness and conflict, and the attitude of different religions to the environment. In the hands of an imaginative teacher, it could be a real energiser for RE in the KS3 years.

* Kar2ouche Learning from Religion is from Immersive Education. You need to have Kar2ouche Composer to run any Kar2ouche title. Site licence: pound;2.50 per pupil (pound;400 minimum, pound;1,400 maximum). Stand-alone set-up: pound;129, including any one Kar2ouche title. Individual Kar2ouche titles: pound;59. BBC Faiths and Celebrations, from Sherston Software, Pounds 49.95.

Immersive Education Stand B812 Sherston Software Stand SW4

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