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Ed Pawson
 Religious
Education
Adviser
 Former Chair
of NATRE
Don’t
neglect
story in
RE
What’s in a story?
BBC website, January 2014
“Children and parents ‘unaware of Bible stories’”
BBC website, reporting Bible Society survey, January 2014
Commenting on ...
Why stories matter
Stories transcend our linear cognitive processes,
conveying deeper, more connective truths
In the Thriv...
Do religious stories matter?
There is widespread ignorance about the important
narratives that form the basis of Christian...
Making progress with stories
Knowing about and understanding
stories
8 Analyse stories
7 Evaluate stories
6 Appreciate dif...
Using story in RE
In the primary setting
 equip teachers to be confident with religious stories
 encourage pupils to ask...
Are stories true?
Some students may perceive that we are exploring stories
because we are trying to prove to them that the...
Who controls the narrative?
“When we tell a story we exercise control”
Jeanette Winterson
Why are some young people negati...
Key questions and issues for discussion
 Do you think stories matter?
 Do children need to learn about religious stories...
Understanding the role of story in the
Christian Tradition
Two perspectives:
 Story at the centre of faith: there is real...
What a downright weird story.
What a peculiar psychology.
I asked for another story, one that I might find more satisfying...
How do you use story in RE?
How could you use it more?
Stories in Islam
There is a wealth of material about Muhammad in story form.
Many of these stories are from the Hadith, th...
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Do not neglect story in RE (ltlre)

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Stories are central to religious traditions. Good teaching in RE needs to celebrate the power of story.

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Do not neglect story in RE (ltlre)

  1. 1. Ed Pawson  Religious Education Adviser  Former Chair of NATRE Don’t neglect story in RE What’s in a story?
  2. 2. BBC website, January 2014
  3. 3. “Children and parents ‘unaware of Bible stories’” BBC website, reporting Bible Society survey, January 2014 Commenting on this a year 8 student wryly observed to me that the headline conceals the assumption that this is a problem!  Why do stories matter? (religion, culture, literature, education, emotional development etc)  How can we create good learning about stories? (going beyond the superficial)
  4. 4. Why stories matter Stories transcend our linear cognitive processes, conveying deeper, more connective truths In the Thrive approach to emotional well-being:  story is seen as a tool to develop the creative imagination  playful use of metaphors gives language to our feelings “It is not possible to access the brain’s joy juice naturally without emotional connection with others” Margot Sunderland
  5. 5. Do religious stories matter? There is widespread ignorance about the important narratives that form the basis of Christianity BBC website, reporting Bible Society survey, January 2014 Would a similar survey find widespread ignorance about stories in other religious traditions? Why might some say that to misunderstand story is to misunderstand religion To read and understand literature we need to understand the Bible: "the beauty of the writing" has "exerted an influence on subsequent writing by establishing itself as a kind of literary DNA". Andrew Motion
  6. 6. Making progress with stories Knowing about and understanding stories 8 Analyse stories 7 Evaluate stories 6 Appreciate different understandings 5 Explain impact of stories 4 Understand stories 3 Describe stories 2 Retell stories 1 Name stories
  7. 7. Using story in RE In the primary setting  equip teachers to be confident with religious stories  encourage pupils to ask questions, suggest meanings, interrogate characters, develop empathy, explore links  be creative, explore impact In the secondary setting  move beyond describing stories  Engage with the significance of stories, understanding diverse perspectives and interpretations  encourage evaluation and analysis  be a theologian, an ethicist, a philosopher  avoid the tendency of reducing them to proof texts (especially at GCSE)
  8. 8. Are stories true? Some students may perceive that we are exploring stories because we are trying to prove to them that they are “true” What if they understand religious stories to be “false”? How are they to comprehend what they are learning? Students need to be  encouraged to appreciate stories  allowed to maintain distance from them  introduced to the idea that truth can be found within a story, even if its historical or evidential credentials can be challenged This is a subtle form of interpretation and requires careful construction by the teacher
  9. 9. Who controls the narrative? “When we tell a story we exercise control” Jeanette Winterson Why are some young people negative about Bible stories?  because they think they are no good?  because they say they are boring? Why, then, when we explored the Bible recently, did a Y8 student say: “This is better than Jeremy Kyle”? Do religious stories represent an authority that young people don’t understand or trust? Q: Who controls the narrative of our lives? A: Whoever controls the stories?
  10. 10. Key questions and issues for discussion  Do you think stories matter?  Do children need to learn about religious stories and if so, how should they be handled?  Do you agree that to misunderstand story is to misunderstand religion?  Does it matter that there is widespread ignorance about the important narratives that form the basis of religions?  How do you show the diverse meanings within stories?  How do you communicate the heart of stories, without implying that they are accurate historical accounts?  Do religious stories represent an authority that young people don’t understand or trust?  Can you analyse a story without undermining faith?
  11. 11. Understanding the role of story in the Christian Tradition Two perspectives:  Story at the centre of faith: there is really only one story in Christianity  The Gospels as story: a detailed theological analysis
  12. 12. What a downright weird story. What a peculiar psychology. I asked for another story, one that I might find more satisfying. Surely this religion had more than one story in its bag- religions abound with stories. But Father Martin made me understand that the stories that came before it- and there were many- were simply prologue to the Christians. Their religion had one Story, and to it they came back again and again, over and over. It was story enough for them.” Pi relates his conversation with the priest: “He told me a story. Or rather, since Christians are so fond of capital letters, a Story. And what a story. The first thing that drew me in was disbelief. What? Humanity sins but it’s God’s Son who pays the price? I tried to imagine Father saying to me, “Piscine, …” Hindus have many stories, Christianity has only one
  13. 13. How do you use story in RE? How could you use it more?
  14. 14. Stories in Islam There is a wealth of material about Muhammad in story form. Many of these stories are from the Hadith, the record of Muhammad’s life and sayings. Click this link to see the Native Deen mercy to manking video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Go71P2UPgkc

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