Inside others' homes

4th December 1998 at 00:00
HOMING IN. By Angela Wood with Jane Oxley, Lesley Prior and Pauline Sims. Trentham Books. Pounds 12.95.

Other people's homes are intriguing. Between the ages of about eight and 11, I was fascinated by the unique smell of each home I visited: to each its own scent.

Homes provide evidence of the life and values of their owners. Homing In takes children into homes in five religions, with background information for teachers, and cross-curricular links. The text is sensitively compiled.

Making a real sari and kurta (boy's suit) from the instructions and pattern supplied, or a Muslim girl's shalwar, kameez and chuni, a Christian first communion dress complete with slip and veil and a Qur'an stand are perhaps frighteningly ambitious, but a murti haar (flower garland), a diwa (light dish) and rangoli pattern are more practicable.

Christianity, as so often in RE, is the problem religion. One might expect to find a baptismal candle and certificate of baptism or confirmation in a Christian home, but what else? This text includes an ikon, a tryptych, a holy water stoop, a rosary, a holy land soil receptacle and a Chi Rho mobile, yet the Bible does not appear visually.

With recipes and textiles to make, there is plenty for children to do. But Homing In is much better as multicultural education than RE, as the latter lacks depth and, amid making all these things, gets rather pushed out. The disembodied scripture quotes don't help the non-specialist teacher to move to the heart of faith.

But for all that it will be a useful resource for the teacher and a reminder that if a person's home is no longer their castle, it can be a source of artefacts as well as aromas.

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