I teach in a Church of England school. The Church of England was founded by Henry VIII when he wanted to break away from the Catholic Church in Rome. He wanted to get divorced but the Pope said no. So he created his own church, and got the divorce(s) that he wanted.
My school is founded on Christian values and religious education is part of the curriculum. We visit our village church every so often for school-related services, and the vicar comes to our school every Thursday to lead the school assembly. In the classroom itself there is a year-long curriculum that is taught as well. For most of the year one of our school’s TAs taught the RE lessons in my class. But with her now made redundant, all subjects are taught by me, including RE. Luckily the last two units are quite interesting to teach since they reach a broad audience.
I just finished the unit on what one finds inside of a place of worship. We looked at Mosques, Gurdwaras, Churches, and Mandirs. To culminate the unit, as well as send us off into our holiday break, we took a field trip to a Mandir in Leicester. We learned that the UK, India, Australia, and North America are some of the largest practitioners of Hinduism in the world.
A Mandir is a Hindu temple. Leicester has the largest Indian population in all of England, many practising Hinduism. My class went along with the Year 5/6 class (Sycamore), so that the costs could be offset. They studied Hinduism as well. Our school rents a coach, like a large tour bus, and it is not cheap, thus more cost effective to fill it with as many kids as possible. Field trips can only ask for donations, never requiring families to pay. Just like in Portland, most families tend to pay so that the school only has to pick up a small portion of the costs.
The St. Philips Centre in Leicester is run out of a Christian church, but what it really does is work as a bridge between all the faiths in Leicester. The two representatives that worked with our school on this day were Muslim and Hindu in faith. We arrived at the Centre, where the kids all got some juice and biscuits, and the adults had coffee, tea, and biscuits made available. A very nice gesture. We were given a synopsis of our planned trip, then hopped back on our coach to visit the Mandir.
We arrived, removed our shoes, and entered the temple. Our school spent some time just exploring about, thinking of questions we could ask the priest when his turn came to speak to the classes. The paintings on the walls and ceilings were bright and beautiful, and the look on the kids’ faces was extraordinary, since this place was so unlike the churches that they (and I) are more familiar with.
All in all a great day out. Kids were behaved, weather was dry, and we all learned something. My last RE unit is on people who inspire us. Ghandi is on the cover of the teacher’s guide (yes, I DO have a teacher’s guide for RE, thank goodness), so I think I will not have a problem teaching this unit.