Around the country, students and teachers have been hoaxed. They’ve been made to believe that GCSE religious studies is, and should be, studying philosophy & ethics. Symptoms of the hoax seem to be that all they want to teach is philosophy and ethics and their reaction to teaching religion in depth, is one of horror and disgust.
A bit dramatic and a bit of click-bait but I think the world of RE has a huge pending issue that needs to be discussed…
The current popular non- religious text/pure religion specifications seem to be a mix of social,moral,geographical, historical issues with some religion in to allow it to be called RS or it’s mainly philosophy and ethics. There are many teachers who seem to be mourning the loss of these. They’ve lost a grasp what religious studies should be; the study of religions. The new specifications (from what I can see are still 50% old style anyway) will challenge teachers to update their knowledge. This can be scary but there is a great network of support for subject knowledge including cheap confer end such as the London RE Hub and forums with kind, members of faith who are willing to answer questions.
Graduates that come in to teaching RE can come from a variety of backgrounds. If their degree and/passion doesn’t lie in the study of religions then a course which does this may not appeal. It is natural that philosophy graduates will want to teach philosophy.
There are teachers that seem to think that the new focus on religion is ‘dry’ and even ‘boring’. Unfortunately I come from the un -pc, unpopular stand point that it is a teacher’s job to make content accessible to students. If a teacher thinks that this GCSE is the worst ever subject they have to teach, then it may not come as surprise that the children pick up on this.
I think that the confusion of what religious studies is, is yet again another way to undermine it. The RE world is so disparate and this divides even further.
Of course, one of the simplest solutions would be to have a philosophy GCSE but we know this hasn’t happened. Probably a good job as there will be many teachers around the country trying to justify meeting the current law on RE with it.
In the mean time I hope that those who dread this new GCSE, spend some time reading about religious stuff they need to teach. In my opinion it’s absolutely fascinating.