How green is God and other conundrums

2nd December 2005 at 00:00
Christianity in Today's World. 2nd edition. By Claire Clinton, Sally Lynch, Janet Orchard, Deborah Weston and Angela Wright, pound;9.99

Religion and Life. 4th edition, also separate 4th edition of foundation edition By Victor Watton, pound;11.99.

A New Approach: Christianity. 3rd edition. By Kevin O'Donnell, Pounds 12.99

A New Approach: St Mark's Gospel. By Michael Wilcockson, pound;12.99

A New Approach: Buddhism. 2nd edition. By Steve Clarke, pound;12.99

A New Approach: Islam. 3rd edition. By Jan Thompson, pound;12.99

A New Approach: Hinduism 2nd edition. By Veronica Voiels, pound;12.99

Philosophy of Religion. By Gerald Jones, Daniel Cardinal and Jeremy Haywood, pound;8.99

* All above titles published by Hodder Murray

Developing Secondary RE series edited by Rosemary Rivett: Religion, Justice and Equality. Relationships: Self, Others and God. Green Issues in Religions: Who cares?

RE Today Services, pound;8.90 each.

A crop of revised editions of tried-and-tested GCSE exam texts from Hodder Murray have been complemented by new books on Mark's Gospel and, for ASA-level on the philosophy of religion.

The choice of content and the student tasks in all these books are rightly geared towards the examination. They retain a common house style with packed factual content, rich colour illustrations, key questions, tasks, web links, "test yourself" sections and end of unit exam-derived assignments that can be used for tests or homework.

Religion and Life now includes Sikhism and updated information with some re-writing of topic areas found to be difficult. Revised GCSE specifications are taken into account in the New Approach series.

Christianity in Today's World has tried to simplify and streamline its material after the 1998 first edition. For reasons of budgeting, most teachers might want to add copies of the new editions to sets they are already using, rather than discard complete sets of earlier editions and replace with new. For this reason it would have been helpful with all these revised editions if a teacher's page at the back had drawn attention to the main changes in the book, even if it appeared in the microscopic font used in the credits page.

In one of the two new books, Michael Wilcockson presents a clear study of Saint Mark linked well into the wider New Testament context and that of subsequent Christian history. The publisher is inevitably hard-pushed for suitable illustrations here compared with other texts in the series.

The ASA-level Philosophy of Religion text - which claims also to be suitable for undergraduate study - is one in a series, Philosophy in Focus.

It deals with God. The provision of short case study examples as a way into discussing concepts and theories is good. But for less able AS students it is less user-friendly, as pages are densely written with few illustrations.

Collectively these new and revised books all from the same publishing house demonstrate the growing number of exam entries for RS which in turn shows the growing health of the subject in KS4.

REToday's three resource books are for teachers, written by members of the professional team. Each contains 33 pages for use in KS34. The books are intended to address their respective issues across the six religions and also non-religious dimensions of the national framework for RE.

The intention is to provide teachers with active approaches and strategies not only for immediate classroom use, but also blocks for building further activities. Books are packed with different case studies and types of activities in a photocopiable format - copyright-free in purchasing schools - with clear and detailed guidance for the teacher.

Religion, Justice and Equality (great cover!) includes school scenarios in which students score the "respect" factor, thought-provoking interpretative material on British charitable giving and sensitive material on sexuality.

Relationships (naff cover!) contains a Perfect Partners game-based activity including Cupid's Flush - guess what - down which you discard the qualities no-one would want in a partner. Thinking skills strategies using prompt cards, rather inappropriately called "Mysteries", in which pupils solve questions like why parents want their baby to be baptised also appear.

Green Issues in Religions contains a sharp worksheet on God and the created world in the six religions, with extension work on interpreting the green-ness of God. How to set up and use web quests on green issues is also explained in detail.

These books are not so much a course, as learning materials that can be integrated into existing courses for enrichment. Religious material does not appear as an add-on like sugar (or salt!) covering a pill but is integrated into the issues in each book and presented fairly. I like the fresh approach. This series also represents value for money.

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