– a unique cross cultural meeting for all secondary RE students in Norfolk
I have been advocating Cooperative Learning as a tool to facilitate collaboration between schools and faith communities for some time, and have now partnered with Ihsan Mosque in Norwich to stage a unique cross cultural meeting for all secondary RE students in Norfolk, the first to take place on Thursday 13 November 2014.
For this first event, I am working closely with RE/humanities coordinators of Acle Academy to receive a number of Gifted & Talented students for this trail run. We have around 15 places available for the day’s event, available on a first come, first served basis (Contact).
Setting the stage: Religious literacy through enquiry
In the morning students will be presented with an enquiry exercise expanding their understanding of Islam in a guided student-centered session where students collaborate to understand and correlate a wide variety of unique materials. The literacy component will be integrated with tasks to pursue the attainment target “learning from religion.” etc.*
Not only does the exercise facilitate relevant religious literacy, but through negotiation, preconceptions are challenged and new connections are made between a host of historical, theological and contemporary political issues, including the ongoing controversy of ISIS.
Elements of this exercise have been trialed at Norwich High School for Girls’ connected curriculum week Life in the Global Village. Below are some of the responses from students:
“…never boring, different … Imaginative!”
“…forces people to be concise [and] to participate and learn.”
“I enjoyed working independently and under pressure … concise yet detailed, curiosity evoked.”
“… after getting used to it, I began to interact more with the class as everybody needed your information and listened to you.”
Minds & hearts: Immersion over information
However, this enquiry lesson, for all its higher level thinking, etc. is still information processing. Students will then have the opportunity to informally engage with Muslim community members over informal lunch in the Mosque. The food is a Morrocan/Jamacian/British fusion kitchen, served on floor from communal plates in a gender separated setting.
We believe that his format, combined with students eating and conversing with regular people, deciding if they want to share their food some with random folks coming in early for the prayer (as they will know from the previous session is basic Islamic practice, and why) is the immersion where real transformative learning will take place.
Note that the trip also includes observing the noon prayer performed and a tour the mosque grounds, presented by experienced staff. The Ihsan Mosque in Chapelfield has been a part of the wider Norwich community for many years and many teachers will be familiar with its outreach programs within local schools and Mosque tours.
Please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for booking and further details.
(may be subject to change)
- 10-12: Islam in RE: Religious literacy through Enquiry at Centre
- 12.00-13.00 Lunch, informally hosted by members of Muslim community.
- 13-13.15 Students watch the noon prayer in Mosque
- 13.15-14.00 Mosque tour
- 14.00+ Questions and answer session
Community Building: Getting the bricks together
On a final note, connected to this is my vision presented at Edinburgh University and June’s Islamic Education Conference in London of presenting a model for local communities, whether unique in relation to faith, ethnicity etc. to provide services and become more self-reliant through their uniqueness. Eg. in this case, the centre and the catering are run by local Muslims, working with me to provide a unique service to the wider community. Community building is a vital life skill and showing the pupils a vital, self-reliant community is a vital piece of learning: real SMSC.
Link to Ihsan Mosque & Community site here.
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* Generally the session facilitates the best practice outlined in the documents Realising the Potential (Ofsted, 2013), Religious Education in English schools: Non‑statutory Guidance 2010 and The Norfolk Agreed Syllabus for Religious Education 2012 and incorporates elements from our upcoming CPD course on October 23.