The Inter Faith Network for the UK has taken the opportunity during Interfaith Week (in the UK) to launch a special new resource for primary schools. It is designed to help increase pupils’ understanding of, and skills for, interfaith encounter, dialogue and action. It focuses on learning about real examples of inter faith engagement, including in their areas.
The resource, for higher primary (age 9-11) pupils, consists of a teachers’ introduction and four units, which are:
➡Unit 1a Religious diversity in the UK and the importance of inter faith activity,
➡Unit 1b Introducing inter faith activity,
➡Unit 2 Let’s talk – inter faith dialogue,
➡Unit 3 Making a difference in the community – inter faith social action, and
➡Unit 4 Team spirit – inter faith sport.
It can can be found at https://www.interfaith.org.uk/resources/learning-about-inter-faith-activity-a-primary-resource.
This resource is aimed at teachers of ages 9-11. It is intended to help pupils learn about the variety of interfaith activity and to help them investigate interfaith activity in their local area. It can be drawn on as a basis for lesson planning for individual lessons or a number of linked lessons.
There are many excellent resources that promote high quality SRI and Religious Education> This resource offers additional material based directly on the work of the Inter Faith Network for the UK, to help pupils understand better interfaith activity. It includes examples from its member bodies, as well as from other sources.
When using these resources it may also be useful to organise visits to places of worship. Some areas have faith trails organised by local interfaith groups where pupils walk to different places of worship to experience the diversity they have locally. It may also be possible to invite speakers from faith and belief communities to come to the school to speak about their faiths and beliefs and how they interact with people from different traditions. In some areas of the UK local interfaith groups assist in this process and provide two or more speakers from different religious traditions to come to the school to talk about how they work together in their area..
How to use the resource
The units are designed to assist lesson planning rather than be used as lesson plans.
Units are designed to be flexible so that teachers can deliver them in a lesson, over a number of lessons spread over time or in a dedicated period of time such as half a day. There is no recommended length of time for any specific unit. Some units lend themselves to more time and others to less and teachers should feel confident about their curriculum decision making in light of the learning and progress that they want their pupils to make.
The units are largely geared to pupils researching topics. However, the links can also be drawn on by teachers to draw information from them or screen
shot them to create their own resources, such as PowerPoint presentations.
When discussing religion and belief it is easy to stray into areas where people feel very passionate. For instance, there may be situations where the self-identification of a person or group with a faith community is contested from within the latter. The possibility of difficult discussions should not deter teachers from exploring the issue of inter faith activity. It is important to have ground rules and to be clear about two points from the beginning:
the importance of listening
➡ to others and respecting what they say; and
➡ that because someone listens to others and respects what they say it does not mean that they have to agree with them.
It is also important to be clear that the term ‘inter faith’ does not imply the compromising of a person’s faith or beliefs or the ‘mixing up of religions’.
It is about the meeting of people with different faiths and beliefs to understand each other better, explore shared concerns and make a positive contribution to their communities.
Teachers may find it useful to read Building Good Relations with People of Different Faiths and Beliefs, which member bodies of The Inter Faith Network for the UK sign up to when they become members. This sets out important ground rules for all inter faith encounter.
Interfaith Teacher ResourcesLesson resources for teaching interfaith activity