Keeping cats and testing lab rats;Secondary;Reviews;Religious education;Books;Features and arts

3rd December 1999 at 00:00
THEIR WORLD: Religion and Animal Issues. By Joe Walker. Hodder amp; Stoughton pound;6.25.

This topic book sets out to challenge pupils to think more clearly about theway we treat animals. It doesso in a religious education framework, so that the teachings of world religions and "newer belief systems" are set against the issues on which, the author says, we must all make up our minds: meat farming, ritual slaughter, fishing, laboratory research, zoos, conservation and even keeping pets.

There are some striking and unexpected photographs, some unusual stories (including a news item about a bus that crashed into a river in Brazil where the passengers were eaten by piranhas) and lots of useful information.

Sometimes there is rather too much information, and some of the language and suggested topics for debate ("What does Jurassic Park tell us about how predictable ecosystems are?") may be difficult for the keystage 3 target group - andso, inescapably, are the arguments.

But overall this is an unsentimental and interesting introduction to an emotiveand increasingly important subject.

In a commendably multi-cultural context, it encourages pupils to discuss theissues, consider therelevance of religiousteaching and explore theirown responses. This is religious education with a difference.

Michael Duffy

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