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Welcome to the Theology News Blog - an attempt to provide a 'one-stop shop' for all news stories, podcasts and TV programming related to religion, philosophy and the theory of knowledge (TOK). It grew out of a similar site created for GCSE and A-Level/IB students in students but is now being offered as an open-to-all resource. It will hopefully be of use to any and all with an interest in these subjects. For notification of all updates either follow us by email or on Twitter (@theologynews) by clicking on the links in the right-hand column. For my own theological writing, please follow the link in the right-hand column to my other blog.

Monday, 18 June 2012

The Three Faiths Forum – helping children understand



Fifteen years ago, a Muslim scholar, a Christian priest and a Jewish philanthropist came together in London to create Three Faiths Forum(3FF), a platform for community leaders to engage with each another and break down barriers. But today, some of the most valuable work the charity undertakes is in schools, ensuring that tensions between faith communities don't trickle down to the next generation.
Often this will simply be making sure that children of different faiths have an opportunity to meet one another or addressing a lack of knowledge about other religions; occasionally more severe problems occur. "We're contacted by RE teachers to help when there's been anti-Jewish, -Muslim or -Christian sentiment," says Debbie Danon, the charity's education manager.
Deputy director Rachel Heilbron speaks of one particularly serious case they became involved with last year. A teacher discussing the features of a church with a group of 14-year-old students at a non-denominational school in London mentioned synagogues. Some of the students complained they didn't want to learn about "Jew stuff". They said that Jews were dirty and smelly and that they kept money under their hats. As the situation escalated, some of the children began banging on the tables, chanting: "Kill the Jews, kill the Jews."
One teacher at the school was worried the shocking incident had not been adequately dealt with, and that staff had tried to ignore it, hoping it would disappear by itself. "These are problems for everyone and they're not prioritised," Danon explains. "Senior management pushes it to the backburner and it's seen as the responsibility of the RE teacher to sort out," says Danon. But a report into the effectiveness of religious education presented by researchers at the University of Glasgow this year found that RE teachers felt under-confident, under-valued and under increasing pressure to "teach to the test" at the expense of tackling real faith issues. Read more...

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