Building Empathy and Awareness in the Religious Education Classroom

This semester, we have been able to bring learning to life in various ways in the Religious Education and Religious Studies classroom. Of particular note is our Year 7 and Year 11 classes.

Our Year 7 classes have been exploring environmental issues and finding out why it is important for us to care for creation. Not only have the boys been investigating the causes and consequences of the issues, but will be developing a presentation aimed at our students at Eddies- advocating for stewardship in action.

Environmental issues seem to be at the forefront of media coverage – whether on the news or social media- so our boys were able to articulate their concerns and their ideas to protect the future planet. In addition to the physical environment, we have also explored our own local and personal context through utilizing the many resources for ‘R U Ok day.’  We discussed some strategies and conversation starters to use when we feel our mate is not okay, as well as what to do when we don’t feel okay. This was such a great activity to do with the boys in class as it had a core focus on relationship and reaching out to each other.

Year 11 have been exploring ‘Religion, worship and the arts’ this semester. Understanding religious themes and teachings across a variety of contexts allows our boys to realise the influence of culture and history on religious expression. We explore various forms of art- painting, film, architecture, music and sculpture. We are investigating ways that art seeks to take the viewer and believer to another place- beyond this time and space. Allowing the adherent to experience the divine or contemplate what is possible.  Experience and emotion are key to the arts. So, to bring learning to life a little more, as well as experience and emotion, we had a go at constructing our own religious sculpture which was to be based on the research we had conducted for our recent assessment task. Whist there were many wonderful ideas, working with clay seemed to be quite the challenge. So not only was this lesson one for empathy for artists, recognizing the challenge and the planning involved in such intricate pieces, it became one for resilience as well, ensuring we keep building even when our piece collapses time and time again! But the final products were strong and their religious theme clear.

While these are only a snap shot of what happens in the Religious Studies and Religious Education classrooms, we constantly seek and embrace opportunities to build empathy, advocacy and awareness in our students. We are looking forward to more opportunities in Term 4!

Carmela Wilson
Head of Religious Education