19th January 2007 at 00:00
Among the recent artefacts bought by my school is a turban. Is it acceptable for pupils to try it on as part of an RE lesson, or would it be seen as disrespectful?

Susan, Hartlepool

A If used in a lesson where there is a respectful attitude towards religion, I don't see a problem. You could make the point that not all Sikhs wear turbans. The www.sikhnet.comstyingturbans website shows that some Sikh women choose to wear one.

However, we must not assume one rule fits across religions - I remember some young Muslim boys in my class getting uncomfortable when girls tried on Islamic prayer caps, it was so contrary to their everyday experience.

Anne Goldstein, London

A What was the rationale behind the purchasing of the turban at the first place?

The teacher needs to make students aware of the significance of wearing a turban. Wearing a turban is not like wearing an ordinary item of clothing, so it can be seen as disrespectful to let students try it on.

We as teachers cannot promote integration by encouraging pupils to mimic other believers.

Lula, Manchester

A I would have thought if tried on as part of an RE lesson and treated in a respectful manner there would be no problem.

The turban is not considered sacred - the uncut hair (Kesh) is one of the 5 Ks or articles of faith. What a wonderful opportunity it would be to explore attainment target 2, learning from religion.

It could be part of a project on "hats and headgear", where children consider who wears headgear, and the reasons why.

They could look at a range of examples - from baseball caps, safety helmets, and other religious headwear to police helmets and crowns - try some on, and then interview people who wear them.

It could be a cross-curricular project with links to PSHE and citizenship, science, design and technology, history and geography.

If I was a child in this classroom I would want to find out more, be able to contribute my own ideas, and would undoubtedly be learning. Jane Gibson, Plymouth

Next week's question

I have just received a telling-off from my head of department for marking in class. My impression was, if the class was silent and focused then you could get on with some marking? Any opinions?

I'm thinking of making the move from secondary to primary because I don't feel I'm making a difference and the pupils don't seem bothered. I like the idea of primary but am worried I won't be able to cope. What do you think?

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