The importance of RE
RE provokes challenging questions about the ultimate meaning and purpose of life, beliefs about God, the self and the nature of reality, issues of right and wrong and what it means to be human. It develops pupils’ knowledge and understanding of Christianity, other principal religions, other religious traditions and other world views that offer answers to questions such as these, including secular world views. It offers opportunities for personal reflection and spiritual development. It enhances pupils’ awareness and understanding of religions and beliefs, teachings, practices and forms of expression, as well as of the influence of religion on individuals, families, communities and cultures.
RE encourages pupils to learn from different beliefs, values and traditions (both religious and nonreligious) while exploring their own beliefs and questions of meaning. It challenges pupils to reflect on, consider, analyse, interpret and evaluate issues of truth, belief, faith and ethics and to communicate their responses.
RE encourages pupils to develop their sense of identity and belonging. It enables them to flourish individually within their communities and as citizens in a pluralistic society and global community. RE has an important role in preparing pupils for adult life, employment and lifelong learning. It enables pupils to develop respect for and sensitivity to others, in particular those whose faiths and beliefs are different from their own. It promotes discernment and enables pupils to combat prejudice. RE encourages pupils to develop positive attitudes to their learning and to the beliefs and values of others.
The following four attitudes are essential for good learning in RE and should be developed at each stage or phase:
• respect for all;
• appreciation and wonder.
Self-awareness in RE includes pupils:
• feeling confident about their own beliefs and identity and sharing them without fear of embarrassment or ridicule;
• developing a realistic and positive sense of their own religious, moral and spiritual ideas;
• recognising their own uniqueness as human beings and affirming their self-worth;
• becoming increasingly sensitive to the impact of their ideas and behaviour on other people. Respect for all in RE includes pupils:
• developing skills of listening and a willingness to learn from others, even when others’ views are different from their own;
• being ready to value difference and diversity for the common good;
• appreciating that some beliefs are not inclusive and considering the issues that this raises for individuals and society;
• being prepared to recognise and acknowledge their own bias; • being sensitive to the feelings and ideas of others.
Open-mindedness in RE includes pupils:
• being willing to learn and gain new understanding;
• engaging in argument or disagreeing reasonably and respectfully (without belittling or abusing others) about religious, moral and spiritual questions;
• being willing to go beyond surface impressions;
• distinguishing between opinions, viewpoints and beliefs in connection with issues of conviction and faith.
Appreciation and wonder in RE includes pupils:
• developing their imagination and curiosity;
• recognising that knowledge is bounded by mystery;
• appreciating the sense of wonder at the world in which they live;
• developing their capacity to respond to questions of meaning and purpose.