Revising for the Year 8 RE Summer Exam

Year 8 have given themselves a really good grounding in RE this year with the two units: What does it mean to be a Christian, and, What does it mean to be a Muslim. These two updated units were specifically designed to drip some of the new GCSE Religious Studies into Key Stage 3 so when students get to Year 10 and 11, they’ll understand a lot already!

We also have the Caring for Others, Genesis (creation and environment) and Suffering and Evil units to revise for the summer exam.

Here are some things to watch from BBC Bitesize Learning to get you started:

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Revising for the Year 7 Summer RE Exam

In class throughout the year we’ve practised different revision methods each time we’ve done an assessment. Perhaps you can use some of them again over the next month to revise for the summer exam? You might create a huge mind map on A3 paper for the whole year using the Positively Mad Mind Mapping skills we learnt when discovering how we can see the world from our window. Below are some things to read and things to watch, to help you review your learning. Why not revise with a friend, so you can talk about things you see and hear. Afterwards you can test each other to check you’ve what you’ve learnt.

On YouTube there is a Beginner’s Bible which is a quick and easy way to revise some of the main stories we’ve learnt this year. For example The Easter Story, The Story of Moses, Jesus and his miracles, and the Nativity.

On Newsround there are numerous good articles and clips about religion which will help with the exam. For example a report on young people finding religion important today, the only Buddhist primary school in Britain, Scouts not wanting to making a promise to God, and a woman winning a Christian cross battle.

Generally the BBC is a good place to look for clear informative articles which can help you understand school work better as well as short video clips to strengthen your knowledge. There is a super page about what you’ll find inside a Mosque, and in the Key Stage 2 Video Clips pages you can search for some easy explanations of things we’ve studied. Meanwhile their Key Stage 3 video clips pages have numerous clips on Buddhism, as well as more on Christianity.

 

 

A Breakthrough in Growing Embryos

Scientists are excited about their findings after leaving embryos to grow past the normal moment they’d be implanted into a womb. There is a legal limit on how long you can allow an embryo to develop outside the womb, 14 days, but even that might soon change as scientists argue it should be extended so they can discover more.

It used to be up to a week that scientists would study a fertilised egg before it was implanted into the womb, but with the extra days scientists have discovered many things about the early stage of development which often results in developmental defects and failure to implant. So all this extra information that they’ve been able to glean should help them reduce infertility in the future.

embryo -a new organism in the earliest stage of development. In humans this is defined as the developing organism from the fourth day after fertilization to the end of the eighth week. 

foetus – a prenatal human (before birth) which is between its embryonic state and its birth.

Remember that at 24 weeks of pregnancy in England a foetus can no longer be aborted. Meanwhile Catholics believe that from the moment of conception a new life has been created and Muslims think that even though abortion is wrong if the mother’s life is at risk then up to 120 days the mother’s life has more value than the foetus.

What are anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism?

Things went badly wrong for the Labour Party this week when an MP called Naz Shah was made to resign for her comments on social media about Israel which were said to be anti-Semitic.

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Then Ken Livingstone, the once Mayor of London, got himself into hot water for verbally supporting Ms Shah and seemingly supporting Adolf Hitler. He was later suspended from the Labour Party.

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So what have they all been saying exactly and what do words like anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism mean?

The BBC website has a clearly explained page all about this:

  1. Anti-Semitism being prejudice against Jewish people
  2. Anti-Zionism is hatred towards the Jewish idea of Zionism that Israel is their rightful homeland and should be taken back from others who have settled there, such as Palestinians.

Difficulties of an Interfaith Marriage

When learning about Community Cohesion and how people in society can be pulled together with racial harmony and no fear of sexism, racism and homophobia, students consider the benefits and pitfalls of interfaith marriage. It is when people of different faiths get married, such as a Christian and non-Christian or a Hindu and Muslim.

Students consider the difficulties of choosing an appropriate marriage ceremony for both people; which faith their children will be brought up with; how there may be conflicting food rules; the difficulty of attending a place of worship on different days and not as a family; and how the extended family and local faith communities might respond. It can be tricky.

Well the Daily Mail reports a story today of how a divorced couple are arguing over the religious upbringing of their child as the mother, a Muslim, does not want her ex-husband to take the son to a Christian Church as it will confuse him. Derby County Court agreed with her and he risks visiting and custodial rights to his nine year old son if he takes him to a Christian Church. The father who cannot be named for legal reasons says:

‘My son is being indoctrinated and the only way I can show him other things is to take him to other places. If I don’t show him other types of life he will become just like a dumb sheep. I want him to see and learn about different cultures.’

The boy lives with his mother but sees his dad at weekends. The court case specifies that the father must not take the boy to any religious event. It decrees he must provide only Halal food and reassure the child he is ‘an ordinary Muslim boy following Muslim rules’. There has been uproar from the Christian community who’ve said that if it was the other way round, there’d be a bigger public backlash and cries of Islamophobia.

It’s an interesting debate. How much should parents decide the religious upbringing of their children and until what age? What should happen if the two parents are of differing faiths: should one dominate? The New York Times had a well written article in 2013 where they said Interfaith unions were really a mixed blessing. The political scientists Robert D. Putnam and David E. Campbell reported a significant positive of Interfaith Marriages: that the more Americans got to know people of another faith, the more they liked them. The New York Times journalist’s research showed that marrying someone of another faith tended to improve one’s view of that faith.

Let’s understand the Christian viewpoint!

Looking at the Christian teachings on Interfaith Marriage St Paul advised the Christians at Corinth to avoid entering significant relationships, such as marriage, with unbelievers. There you have it: Don’t marry an unbeliever—that is, someone who doesn’t share the basics of Christian doctrine and practice. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 in the King James Version of the Bible it says: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?”

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To explain that a little a yoke is a wooden bar that joins two oxen to each other and to the burden they pull. An “unequally yoked” team has one stronger ox and one weaker, or one taller and one shorter. The weaker or shorter ox would walk more slowly than the taller, stronger one, causing the load to go around in circles. When oxen are unequally yoked, they cannot perform the task set before them. Instead of working together, they are at odds with one another.

 

 

“Miss we’re not allowed to say hot cross buns anymore!”

Today at school a student claimed we weren’t allowed to say ‘hot cross buns’ anymore as it would offend Muslims. I questioned where he’d got such a story from and then demonstrated that we were allowed to say both hot cross buns and Easter eggs without offending anyone.

So where had he got this story from? I’ve tried to find the story online but failed. What I did find was a newspaper article in the Express from 2007 which explained how a hospital banned hot cross buns to not offend ethnic minorities. This didn’t go down well with religious leaders saying how ludicrous it was and Muslims saying how they’re not offended by hot cross buns and often eat them themselves.

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Meanwhile in 2003 the Telegraph reported how lots of local councils were banning their schools from putting hot cross buns on the menu to avoid offending non-Christians. Again this move met with lots of criticism: The Muslim Council of Britain called the decision “very, very bizarre”. A spokesman said: “This is absolutely amazing. At the moment, British Muslims are very concerned about the upcoming war with Iraq and are hardly going to be taken aback by a hot cross bun.

“Unfortunately actions like this can only create a backlash and it is not very thoughtful. I wish they would leave us alone. We are quite capable of articulating our own concerns and if we find something offensive, we will say so. We do not need to rely on other people to do it for us. British Muslims have been quite happily eating and digesting hot cross buns for many years and I don’t think they are suddenly going to be offended.”

Making the whole furore more ridiculous is the fact hot cross buns were probably around first as a pagan snack before being adopted by the Christians in England. It wasn’t until Queen Elizabeth I that hot cross buns were pushed to only be eaten around Good Friday. You can find out more hot cross buns and Simnel Cake from a website about England’s history.

In the staffroom today we all enjoyed a hot cross bun: teachers and TA’s of all faiths and none. Nobody broke out into song though! Off school on Wednesday when my son was ill we went to rhyme time at Woking library and sang along…

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Which 5 animals are close to extinction?

In Year 8 RE we’re looking at creation stories, stewardship, animal rights and battery hens this half-term. We’ve talked in class about which animals have their welfare protected by the law and which animals are lawfully allowed to be used in scientific experiments. Debating whether animals and humans are equal as well as thinking about self-consciousness and autonomy, has led some students to really think about which animals of the world need special protection because they’re so few in number.

The BBC iwonder series have a superb investigation, perfectly timed for us, about which 5 species are most under threat in the world, as well as links to mini-documentaries  and articles about zoos and Charles Darwin.