Textbook For Multi-Faith Religious Education: Who Is Jesus?
Who Is Jesus? Supplementary Materials For Religious Education In The Upper Secondary School
Authors: Rob Freathy, Esther D. Reed, Anna Davis, Helen C. John and Anneke Schmidt
Publisher: University of Exeter (2018)
E-book (PDF), 112 pages
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About This Book
Who is Jesus? is a resource for teaching about Jesus as part of upper-secondary-school Religious Education (RE) in England and Wales. The lessons provided in this textbook aim to ‘do Jesus differently’. They build upon, but also go beyond, approaches to teaching about Jesus that are commonly found in primary and lower secondary schools, such as looking at the life of Jesus, or exploring specific themes (e.g. miracles, healing or parables). Each lesson is designed to enable teachers to guide students in asking ‘Who is Jesus?’ for a different individual or group of people. The lessons also introduce students to various academic approaches that might be employed in attempting to provide answers to this question. Present throughout the lessons are a team of fictional academics – scholars who model for students how to go about the task of asking ‘Who is Jesus?’, and whose approaches to answering this question students are encouraged both to adopt and critique.
This is influenced by the ‘RE-searchers’ approach to RE in primary schools, also developed at the University of Exeter (Freathy, G. et al., 2015; Freathy, R. et al., 2017). The ‘RE-searchers’ approach employs cartoon character researchers to encourage students to engage with different interpretations, methodologies and methods in a critical, dialogic and inquiry-led approach to the study of religion(s) and worldview(s). Developed here for use in upper-secondary-school environments, each fictional academic featured in this textbook represents a branch of the academic disciplines of Theology and Religious Studies as they might be studied in a university setting – for example, Church History, Biblical Studies, or Contextual Theology. The academics introduce students to the different sources they use for their research, the methods or skills that they employ to examine these sources and the particular perspectives or worldviews that provide the motivation for their work and which influence the directions their investigations take. Also included are paintings by Devon artist, Brian J. Turner, which may be familiar to some from an earlier resource called The Art of Bible Reading (Freathy et al, 2014). Turner’s artwork depicts biblical scenes in a quirky, contemporary style that is both engaging and thought-provoking, and further helps to open up notions of perspective and interpretation to students.
The lessons proposed in this RE textbook, therefore, aim to provide students with the opportunity to learn the knowledge, skills and dispositions required to engage in, and to critique, the processes of inquiry involved in Theology and Religious Studies. The inclusion of specifically theological inquiry within RE has become a much-discussed topic among Religious Educators in recent years (see, for example, in the Church of England Archbishops’ Council Education Division and National Society’s 2014 report ‘Making a Difference’). While many have agreed that theological inquiry should form an important element of RE in schools, the extent to which it might be considered an appropriate part of RE in schools without a religious affiliation, and the methods by which it might be successfully incorporated within such settings, remain unresolved. The approach to Theology upon which the lessons in this textbook are based is designed to be acceptable in schools both with and without religious affiliations. Theology is applied in a critical, dialogic and inquiry-led context, and at no point assumes any particular faith, or non-faith, stance.