First principles

24th February 1995 at 00:00
Religious Education 7 - 11. Developing Primary Teaching Skills By Terence Copley Routledge #163;9.99 0 415 10125 5

Religious Education 7 - 11 is a collection of material for teachers who wish to find out what the subject is about. It is not a manual with schemes of work or collections of activities that progressively build children's understanding of concepts. Its strength lies in raising the questions that teachers need to address in order to plan and teach RE effectively.

The merit of such an approach is in getting the basics right, the drawback is that it leaves teachers on the lower rungs of the ladder they have to climb. But that is not surprising in a book of 100 pages. The bibliography will take teachers further.

Religious Education 7 - 11, part of a series on the curriculum in primary practice, covers such issues as the legal framework for RE, planning, story and truth, exploring Christianity and world faiths, spirituality, visits and visitors, and assessment. The chapter contents include use of children's work and the approach emphasises addressing questions such as the place of RE in the primary curriculum, differences in children's perceptions of God and the relevance of RE to their experience. There are examples of planning against attainment targets, strategies for learning, and assessment schemes. The author draws on other published material, such as the Forms of Assesment in Religious Education Report and A Gift to the Child. The activities, which are for teachers, not children, raise issues and questions. Some, such as the checklist on planning a visit to a place of worship, are rather obvious; the best consider what RE is really about when related to the lives of children.

Religious Education 7 - 11, therefore, acts as a catalyst for teachers' thinking about RE in the primary school. It may promote confidence in some but anxiety in others. It will remind teachers of what they need to get to grips with to ensure that RE has its appropriate place in the curriculum, but they will probably need another book on delivering it. I was sometimes left with a feeling of how to avoid RE going wrong rather than how to make it go right. Is this a symptom of the age we live in?

Clive Erricker is a lecturer in RE at Chichester Institute of Higher Education.

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