Shake up your spiritual side

25th January 2008 at 00:00
Have fun, but think about what counts. Music, dance and cookery can get to the heart of religion, says Elizabeth Pope.


Spirituality is at the heart of RE. But it's not an easy concept to tackle in the middle of a busy school day. That's why I came up with the idea of a Spirituality Day, where the whole school goes off timetable to participate in activities designed to get them thinking about spirituality. After all, our school already has focus days for health and careers - and the spiritual side is just as important.

The curriculum changes at key stage 3 emphasize links between RE and other subjects, so our Spirituality Day will involve school colleagues as well as visitors from outside.

I'll bring in a gospel choir and an Indian dance group. Pupils can try their hand at something fun, which should encourage them to think about the close connection between spirituality and music. Most of them are familiar with the gospel sound, and with Bollywood films, but they don't necessarily understand the religious element.

We'll also be holding a Jewish cookery workshop. The children will make some traditional dishes and learn how food rituals are an important part of the Jewish faith. The idea is to get them thinking about how different religions express spirituality through everyday living.

There will also be an ICT project, where pupils design places of worship as part of a housing development, thinking about the religious needs of the community, and whether or not it's a good idea to have multi-faith centres.

But spirituality isn't just about religion. I've invited a laughter therapist into school. Laughter is a very spiritual thing, because it's an expression of who you are. It's a window on your soul. And, of course, it makes you feel great.

You could tailor your workshops according to what's available, or the interests of your colleagues. The most important thing is that children can immerse themselves in what they're doing, make links and learn in a deeper way.

At the end, there will be time to reflect. Hopefully, all our pupils will have developed a better understanding of what spirituality means, to themselves and others, and the different dimensions it can take

Elizabeth Pope is an Advanced Skills Teacher of RE at Highworth Grammar School in Kent. She was talking to Steven Hastings.

Teacher Tips

- Ask colleagues what workshops they'd be willing to run - you'll be surprised what they come up with.

- Plan ahead. It can take several months to get everything in place.

- Try to have a wide range of workshops. You need to find things that will appeal to science and IT enthusiasts.

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