In year 8 we explore the faith of Islam. As part of this exploration we investigate the impact of belief on the lifestyles of believers; how is it similar and different to our own? This covers a wide range of themes such food, prayer, fasting and ethics.
In order to capture the imagination of the students and simultaneously make them more aware of the fact there are high profile believers I decided to focus in on fame and faith.
The foundations were laid by making sure students had a workable knowledge of the key concepts to explore; The 5 Pillars, food laws (including alcohol) and relationships (marriage).
The next step was to find out who was a famous Muslim; this really generates massive excitement as it’s full of surprises. When my students found out Mo Farrah, many of their favourite footballers and even Snoop Dogg (according to the Internet) were Muslims there was a great deal of surprise, commotion and realisation. It changed the way they thought about who Muslims were. That’s really important as we can often just give an overly RE teacher view of believers; it’s good to give them a dose of real people. They then did a detailed investigation of their chosen believer.
The next step was to explore how the teachings of their faith would impact on their life…
•Would Ramadan make it difficult for sports personalities to train and perform?
•Is it difficult to be a premiership footballer and a believer with all the temptations and avoid alcohol? (It is Haram after all.)
•How should wealthy believers use their privileges? (Zakat- charity)
•Would food laws be an issue in nutrition programs?
•Will Snoop Dogg make a good Muslim? How will he have to change his lifestyle? (Lots to investigate here.)
•Is prayer and holy days an issue for professional athletes?
•How should famous people behave? (The whole role model issue.)
This idea captures the imagination and breaks down some of the barriers to understanding a faith as real people with beliefs, not just walking textbook stereotypes. Students enthused to learn about faith and gaining a greater understanding of our diverse society, win.
This approach can be used with any belief system, the examples above are just how we chose to investigate Islam.
Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE
To finish a random photo of one of my sporting heroes, and great role model, ultrarunner Ben Abdelnoor talking to the fans after a 1 mile children’s race.