Lesson ideas: RE

19th November 2004 at 00:00
The study of what constitutes fundamentalism provides opportunities for pupils at or aiming for level 4 or above in the new National Framework.

Fundamentalism is useful in RE as an antidote to the perception of some children that religions are merely hobbies, but it spreads the prejudice that associates all committed religious believers with extremism - a prejudice at present manifest against Islam, in particular, by some parents and pupils. By no means are all fundamentalists "baddies". They are in the main law-abiding people. In many ways it is better to present fundamentalism in RE lessons as a passionate protest, even a scream or howl, against secular or materialistic or over-individualistic values and ways of life and the apparently unquestioned dominance they hold. That is fair to the non-rational element of fundamentalism and also helps pupils to hold a mirror to their own values and way of life. What do I assume without question? What are my core values? Am I the centre of the world? What do I fundamentally believe? Scientific fundamentalism is a good way of reminding pupils that religions have no monopoly on extreme truth claims. The core task of education, not just RE, is with Pilate (John 18.38) to ask "What is truth?"

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