Why do thousands of people come together to worship? Many churches in England are half empty, but in other countries churches, mosques and synagogues are packed.
Can you guess what kind of event is shown in this picture (mass worship in a large mosque)? What is a mosque (a sacred place of worship in Islam, originally based on the courtyard next to the house of the Prophet Mohammed)? How is it different from a Christian church (no singing, absence of sculptures or pictures, bare feet, prayer mats and kneeling, sexes separated)? What else do you know about mosques (minaret tower from which the muezzin, or crier, calls people to prayer five times a day; often has school attached where people can learn about the Koran)?
What do you know about different faiths such as Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism? Do they have anything in common, or are they all different (belief in a single god; there is often a major prophet and other esteemed figures from history; some shared events like miracles; a fundamental religious text such as the Bible or Koran; water may play a part in the symbolism, eg baptism, ablution)? What about people who say they are not religious - do they have no beliefs at all? Do you have to attend collective worship regularly to be religious?
What sort of religious buildings have you seen or visited which impressed you? What are the external and internal features of them (towers, figures,decoration, size, colour, images)? How do architects plan a large building for thousands of people (pillars to support massive roof; usually huge floor space and great height inside; sense of awe and serious purpose necessary)?
(a) A Martian arrives in this mosque or in a large cathedral. Explain what is happening; (b) Ask other people in the class what they know about different religions and write up your results.
TED'S TALKING POINTS
Men worship separately from women in this picture. Should we have separate rather than mixed schools and classes for boys and girls?
When they are in the same school or classroom, boys and girls distract each other from learning, especially in the teenage years. There is less sexual stereotyping in single sex schools, and girls are more likely to specialise in maths and science. Single sex schools often do better academically as well. Boys and girls need time among people of the same sex in order to develop socially without fear of embarrassment.
We have to mix with everybody when we are grown up, so why segregate children at school? People who went to all-boy or all-girl schools often find adult social life difficult. Girls usually work harder and behave better than boys, and they can have a civilising influence. The only reason why some single-sex schools do better than mixed schools in exams is because many of the most selective schools are segregated.