I have been very fortunate for the last nine years to have a large number of students wanting to study Philosophy and Ethics, with roughly 100-150 students taking the course each year. This may be due to early interventions including changing the name from Religious Studies to Philosophy and Ethics (R.S). This meant that students understood what the course entailed, helping retention. My students also did a number of activities that attracted the attention of the local news such as making a Holocaust patchwork quilt for Holocaust Memorial Day (see Leaving a Lasting Impression).
But unfortunately this year (whilst I am still very lucky to have 90 students) our cohort from schools is going down and R.S is going to be hit over the next few years because of this. So this year, for the first time in many years, I am going all out on Open Evening. Usually I just place books and DVDs of interest around the room, create a handout and have current students answer questions and talk and interact with potential new students. But not this year!
This year we had a number of exciting, interactive activities for students and parents to get involved with.
Around college laminated posters were placed drawing students and parents to the R.S classroom including:
- Posters with Quotes:
- Posters with Discussion Questions:
- Skeleton holding ‘What makes us human?’ outside the classroom
- Posters with ‘Fancy a Photo with a Philosopher’ (see below)
In the classroom there were a number of activity tables including:
- Plato’s Cave which my student helpers could explain to visitors
- Discussion Trees linking to the discussion questions found around college
- The Trolley Problem with an explanation sheet and of course jelly babies
- Can you make order out of chaos? – Lego pieces
- Mandalas to colour in for any small children (or stressed parents) with a calming philosophical passage on the back
- Handouts about the course (free download found at: https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/philosophy-ethics-and-christian-thought-course-outline-11715186 )
The pièce de résistance Philosopher Photo Booth: this idea started out with philosopher face masks and a quiz called ‘Which Philosopher are You?’ Well I ran out of time to write the quiz but I had still had 16 philosopher’s faces (that was a fun Tuesday night cutting them out!!) So what on earth could I do with them??
Next thing I knew I was texting my colleague for her selfie cardboard frame and asking my estates team if they could hang it from the ceiling to create a Philosopher Photo Booth. Potential students come and take a picture holding up the masks in a frame that advertises my college and subject, which all then end up on social media= free advertisement.
Thank you for all the ideas on both R.S FB forums. I have uploaded to TES a document with all the quotes, discussion questions and Philosopher’s faces for free download at: https://www.tes.com/teaching-resource/r-s-open-evening-11750926 🙂
2018 Open Evening Updates:
Discussion Question slips: Students go around college giving students and parents slips with a discussion question on:
Display Board: we have been allocated a prime location in the café area to create a pop-up- shop with the display board. The table will include handouts, discussion questions and of course sweets!
The board shows the different elements of the course including past and current student quotes, celebrity philosophers, previous trips/ speakers/ conferences, skills developed, topical questions and topics covered. (This was one of those projects that I highly underestimated how long it would take – hours of cutting, laminating and sticking later – I am very pleased!)
Finally I have posted a promotional video via the FB page and Twitter and linking it in to local schools. Two schools out of five re-tweeted, liked and/or shared the video, which is a really good start!
For further ideas on ways to promote and advertise R.S check out: Fourth Subject Choice – Will this be the end of R.S?