In the last few weeks I have been working particularly hard on a project with school teachers. A colleague – Alison Jack, a specialist in Christian parables – and I have been creating resources for school teachers that are based on narratives. The idea is that stories are a wonderful way into thinking about religions, as not only have stories been used as religious teachings for thousands of years, but they invite open discussion, interpretation, empathy, and the ability to see multiple points of view.
Our first set of resources – stories from Buddhist and Christian traditions – are now available on our website: http://www.storyandreligion.div.ed.ac.uk/schools/resources/
It is a fantastic project to be involved with. We have had a lot of input from school teachers, both at Continuing Professional Development sessions that we have held, and from three consultants we have worked with more closely. We have learnt a great deal about school-level RME (Religious and Moral Education) teaching in Scotland, and – I hope – have made a useful contribution. We plan to continue to develop the project to include more resources, including those from other religious traditions, as well as lesson plans shared by teachers who have adapted the resources for their own classes.
We have already heard from teachers using our resources in the classroom. It was particularly interesting (and entertaining!) for me to hear little interviews with King Shibi, as staged by pupils in a class run by one of our teacher consultants, Martin Downes of Boroughmuir High School, when he shared this lesson at an event last week. [You can watch his presentation here.]
I am so delighted to think that more children (and teachers!) will come to know jātaka stories and other Buddhist narrative as a result of this work. I hope the stories will enrich their understanding of Buddhism, as well as providing plenty of enjoyment. And I look forward to working on some stories from Hindu traditions in the summer.
But now I really must get back to finishing my book…