Exploring Questions in RE. Book 1 by Carys Thomas and Vicky Thomas, Nelson Thornes pound;8.25. Introducing Philosophy of Religion. By Dilwyn Hunt, Nelson Thormes pound;9. www.nelsonthornes.com
I teach in an RE department where we engage pupils in a wide variety of activities, few of which involve working out of textbooks. The few textbooks we have purchased are either of very high quality or are written directly for the GCSE course that we study.
Framework RE1 aims to help teachers deliver the new National Framework for RE for key stage 3, written by the chair of the National Framework writing group. It is clearly set out and easy to follow, with each chapter identifying skills and key words, together with helpful, well designed illustrations. There is a good variety of activities, but few are kinaesthetic. If you are looking for a book which covers all aspects of the National Framework this would be a good place to start, but it is not really a book you can dip into as part of a variety of resources, as students need to follow through the units.
Most of the Framework RE1 teacher's resource pack gives background information and advice on delivering the lessons. There are some photocopiable activities, but I would have expected a greater variety and number.
Exploring Questions in RE Book 1 is also clearly set out with boxes telling students what the chapter is about, key words and excellent diagrams and pictures. Student activities are varied and there are helpful boxes to explain how to do them. There are visual, auditory and kinaesthetic activities. This book would supplement and support any KS3 course based on an agreed syllabus, and chapters can easily be used by themselves so the book can be dipped into at appropriate points in a course.
Judging by the first books in each series, my preference is for Exploring Questions in RE, because I feel it has a wider range of activities, helpful weblinks and better visual resources. However, if a department has based its course on the National Framework, the other book would be the place to start.
Introducing Philosophy of Religion is designed for both KS34. It is encouraging to see publishers dealing with the whole area of the philosophy of religion and the book offers comprehensive and detailed coverage.
However, I fear that the amount of plain text and rather unimaginative activities that only appear at the end of chapters up to 10 pages long, would switch most students off to what can be a very engaging subject. This may be a useful resource for gifted and talented students to dip into or use for research text, but I would not recommend it as a whole class textbook.
Dave Bennett is AST Teaching and Learning and RE at Babington Community Technology College, Leicester