Have faith in your subject

12th October 2007 at 01:00
Places of worship are always fascinating. We went into Manchester and visited the central mosque, the Buddhist centre and the Catholic cathedral. At the mosque there were more than 1,000 people at prayer, which in itself is a thought-provoking experience.

At the Buddhist centre, we joined in a meditation. It began with breathing and relaxation exercises. After that, we were encouraged to think about who we were and where we came from. Then we moved that outwards and thought about people in our lives, then the wider community, and eventually the whole cosmos. It gives you a sense of your place in the universe and stops you becoming too self-absorbed.

To me, that's what RE is all about: getting people to look beyond the here and now. Meditation exercises help children understand the principles of Buddhism, but they're not just learning about religion, they're learning from religion. Lots of kids think RE is boring. They suspect you're trying to convert them, or make them believe in God. But when I did this meditation back at school, they all switched on and even difficult pupils became fully engaged. The results were remarkable.

At the cathedral, objects had been placed around the church, and we had to ponder their significance. For instance, there was a model of a corpse, and we were encouraged to contemplate it from both a Catholic and a secular viewpoint. The whole day was uplifting. You could organise something similar with a class or simply adapt the exercises for use at schoo *

Leo Fallon is head of RE at Haydock Sports College in St Helens in Merseyside. He was talking to Steven Hastings


How Places Of Worship Can Enhance Learning by Keynote Educational. pound;190 + VAT. Tours in Manchester and London. Dates and details at www.keynote.org.uk

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