Religious studies

23rd March 2001 at 00:00
SKILLS IN RELIGIOUS STUDIES. Foundation Edition. By J Fageant and SC Mercier. Books 1, 2 and 3 pound;7.99 each Heinemann

The foundation editions of the established Skills in Religious Studies series are intended as easier-to-read texts alongside the core editions, or as stand-alone texts. The scenario is the well-travelled world religions tour by themes: festivals, stories, symbols and pilgrimage (Book 1), worship, the home, scriptures and key beliefs (Book 2), rites of passage (Book 3).

The identical pagination of the two editions assists joint use. The same photographs enhance both editions, and the balance between text and pictures means te writing is not daunting. The emphasis is on learning about religions rather than learning from religion.

Pupils are told that in the UK children "get to know about" different religions because they have RE in school, that "it is good to know what the main religions are, what the followers believe and what they do". Readers are then told that they need to learn skills as well as facts. This approach looks unconvincing for those pupils whose response is "What has religion done for me? Why should I bother with it?" They will need something different.

Terence Copley is professor of religious education at the University of Exeter

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