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RMPS session 1 - The Personal Search Approach

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Graeme Nixon

on 13 September 2018

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Transcript of RMPS session 1 - The Personal Search Approach

Council of Europe recommendations:

Religious education is a vital aspect of education in the 21st
Century. RE should develop:

Knowledge of multiple traditions
Exploration of controversial issues
Impartial analysis
Increasingly philosophical methodology
RME/RMPS Session 1
The Personal Search Approach

Graeme Nixon
Historical Overview
Approaches to RMPS
CfE and RMPS
These sessions attempt to:

Justify the study of religion, morality and philosophy and develop an interest in it
introducte aspects of learning and teaching in RME/RMPS in
Enable and encourage you to successfully teach RME/RMPS
Update you on current developments and ongoing issues in this subject area

These lectures will not…..

Provide you with an adequate knowledge and understanding of traditions and beliefs

To understand cultures and the world today
To identify and enact shared values
To engender respect for other beliefs
It is fascinating!
To satisfy the human need for meaning, value and purpose in life
To develop self knowledge and wisdom.
To develop critical thinking skills that allow pupils to navigate the postmodern moment
To develop thinking skills transferable to other areas in school and to life

‘Religion embodies the wisdom and experience of humanity through countless generations. ….. Its understandings of what it means to be human and its recognition that the world is more than just that which can be observed, noted and catalogued means that its approach is truly encyclopaedic.’
Martin Palmer 2002.
What is Spirituality?

“The term “spiritual” applies to all pupils.
The potential for spiritual development
is open to every one and is not confined to the
development of religious beliefs….
The term needs to be seen as applying to
something fundamental in the human condition.
It has to do with the unique search for human

Review of Religious Observance, LTS 2005
The Global and European Context: A growing recognition of the importance of multi-religious RE’

Unesco report 1996 – importance of learning to be, and learning to live together
Post 9-11 – response to unprecedented levels of public discourse about religion
2002 – French allow discussion of the role of RE (relaxation of laicité)
Growing desire for enactment of Human Rights in terms of freedom of conscience
REdCo project – research into the views of young people:
Those surveyed wanted or exhibited:
Dialogue with and between apparently conflicting views
Knowledge and understanding of religions and other views
Lack of fear of relativism
How do these recommendations fit within a confessional context?
Lack of curriculum time
Essentialist approaches (pedagogy that fails to develop a proper sensitivity to beliefs)
Lack of resources and expertise
The Scottish Context
Census 2001

66% of Scots described themselves
As ‘Christian’

28% stated they were not religious

Census 2011

54% of Scots described themselves as 'Christian'

37% stated they were not religious
Subsequent developments:
specialist teachers (1974);
certification (1983);
government inspection (1984);
national curricula (1992);
recognition of Philosophy (1999)
Development of a child-centred approach (1972 onwards)
Symptoms of the postmodern moment?

Intertextuality, rejection of external authority, individual rights and
autonomy championed, syncretism, relativism, ludicity (ideological
playfulness), death of ideologies, cynicism, suspicion towards any
grand narrative or ‘story’

Also…. emphasis on dialogue
Confessional - Educational - Multi-religious - Child-centred - Philosophical
1. John Hull
Hull thinks there are 4 approaches (in Lane, 1992, in Nikjoo and Vickers, 1993)
1. Transmissional (RE as Religious mission) RI
2. Descriptive (RE as the study of religion) RE
3. Personal (RE as a gift to human development) RME
4. Dialogic (analysis of world views) RMPS

Hull’s understanding of the evolution of RE is that:
“we may discern the outline of three consecutive stages in the development of religious education in modern national states. Mono-religious traditional instruction gives way to multi-cultural education for understanding. This in turn becomes dialectical through controversy, leading to a heightened awareness of the ambiguity of religion….” (in Lane, 1992, p9)
2 Views on the evolution of RME
2. Robert Jackson – responses to pluralism

To defend the conflation of Christianity and morality promoting British cultural identity

Faith schooling

Rejection of RE as imposing oppressive meta-narratives; instead exploring personal narratives

Promotion of religious literacy

Reflexive debate on religion – skills for interpretation and development of their own views

Remove RE as society is secular and RE is irrelevant to the majority of pupils
The following trends can be seen internationally:

Debate about a confessional or educational approach and the unpopularity of the confessional approach (Austria, Estonia, Finland);

The perceived need for religious literacy (Estonia, France), particularly in face of religious extremism (Germany) and consumerism (Estonia);

The influence of political ideology, particularly in post Soviet states (Estonia, Hungary), but also where there is political will to teach citizenship and ethics (Belgium, France);

The sensitivity to diverse views. This is seen in the various manifestations of the conscience clause and the triggers for a non-confessional approach (Finland, Estonia, Austria, Denmark, Norway);

The emergence of an RE professional class and an educational approach to the subject (Austria, Estonia, Hungary, Sweden);

Increasingly philosophical content on ethics and Science (Denmark, England and Wales, Sweden, Belgium).

Source: European Forum for Teachers of Religious Education 2006

Calls for RE in USA schools (Religious Literacy – Prothero 2002)
The Scottish Approach

The Personal Search:

“a process by which pupils can discover and develop their own beliefs and values. It involves them in making up their own minds on religious and moral issues by developing skills associated with critical thinking and evaluation.”
(Kincaid/McVeigh 2001)
Theories of remembering show that we learn best:
at beginning (primacy effect)
at end of learning sequence (recency effect)
items associated with stored patterns
items identified as unique/outstanding
items associated strongly with the senses
items of personal interest
(Buzan 2000)
RME/RMPS as concerned with Humankind’s attempts to answer the Big Questions of Life?
a working definition for pupils
not narrow (admits for study of other ways of making sense of life)
allows for objective study
allows for development of their own ‘answers’
generates empathy for others who ask the same questions
(ie everyone!)
Invites the study and discussion of non-religious philosophies
The model of Socrates:
Enthusiastic for the great questions
Modest about his own understanding
Inclusive questioning style
Teacher as ‘midwife’
Curriculum for Excellence – the final Outcomes 1

Must be read with Principles and Practice Paper

Key statements:

Acknowledgement of diversity, including non-religious views

Personal Search methodology to permeate (children to learn ‘about and from’)

Emphasis on reflection and discernment

Emphasis on action and service
3 lines of development
(i) Christianity
(ii) World Religions selected for study
(iii) Development of Beliefs and Values

Rationale for place of Christianity as a separate line of development in terms of cultural literacy

Sensitivity to local context

Acknowledgement of global nature of society

Avoids superficial coverage of too many traditions
The Outcomes

Christianity and World Religions selected for study organised under 3 headings:
(i) Beliefs
(ii) Values and Issues
(iii) Practices and Traditions

There are several reasons why the study of religion and philosophies is valued – ultimately it is about gaining self knowledge and wisdom
Religion is a complex concept requiring a very broad definition
RME has increasingly become RMPS
Advocating a ‘Personal Search Approach’ to learning and teaching in RME. This is a ‘non-confessional’ approach involving ‘learning from’ and ‘learning about’ religion
‘Learning from’ cuts across the structures in the 5-14 RME guidelines and CfE
Good teaching in RME MUST involve ‘learning from’. If your RME/RMPS lessons contain no Personal Search they can do more harm than good!
Use of Story
World Religions, humanism and primal religion
RMPS and thinking skills
Moral Education
RMPS, Drama, Literacy and Health
Religious Literacy?
Full transcript