“You can’t be religious and a humanist”: Humanism Explored

It is always a struggle to find R.S related trips and speakers, that would engage a group of teenagers but also be relevant to the spec. When I attended the NATRE 20:20RE conference in Cheshire this October (I highly recommend!!) I went along to a session run by Luke Donnellan who was representing the Humanist Society. As I sat and listened to the array of views, reminiscent of Bertrand Russell, 2017-05-23-LW-v1-Humanists-UK-staticDawkins and Freud, I started to think about the topic of Secularisation in the second year DCT. After speaking with Luke at the end of the session, he pointed me in the direction of the main Humanist website (Humanists UK) and the possibility of arranging a speaker to run a session with my students for FREE. This was sounding better and better…not only would a humanist perspective link to the spec, it would also provide my students with a wider knowledge of different perspectives and challenge their understandings… all for free!

After contacting the head office via the contact details provided on the website, my request was answered within a day with the possibility of a speaker who could travel to Scarborough (we are a bit out on a limb here!) This possibility paid off and within three weeks of attending the 20:20 conference, my students had their questions ready and their notebooks at hand for our Humanist speaker. It really was as easy as that to arrange.

The session was split into two main sections: ‘What is Humanism?’ with Q/A and ‘Does God hate women?’ – a personal interest of our speaker, who knew we were studying gender, feminism and the role of women in the church as well.

Highlights (don’t forget these are the views of our speaker and how he interprets humanism into his life and practices):

Continue reading ““You can’t be religious and a humanist”: Humanism Explored”


Warning: Doctrines of Christian Thought Exam Approaching!!

The questions you will not be asked Monday afternoon are:

May 2017 First Year Paper:


May 2018 First Year Paper:


This means that a question on each of the areas of the first year spec has been asked. What this means (and following the pattern of the previous two A2 exams) is that there could be two questions on AS and two on A2. This means that the same topic might be asked again, just not the question areas already asked above. I have a feeling you may get asked three Q from A2 because there are so many question areas that could be asked from the second year and the AS has been covered quite efficiently over the last two AS exams.

Difficult to predict this one, so based on my gut feeling (the main thing my gut has been doing over the past few weeks of exams is flip flops!) I think the Q areas are going to be:

  • Pluralism and Theology – worded around exclusivism
  • Gender – worded around the church’s teachings/ traditional views/ where it fits into today’s society
  • Secularization – faith/ scripture so you could link in natural and revealed and moral principles from AS
  • Person of Jesus – liberator or divine vs human.

I think because the two topics within Pluralism and the two topics within Gender overlap and are very similar ( in that you could easily interchange the information between them) therefore I think any questions on these areas will be quite open (potentially quite vague, hopefully not too obscure like the Philosophy questions).


  1. Make sure you know Ephesians,  Acts and Mulieris Dignitatem.
  2. Be prepared that the questions might be quite open. Remember that a lot of these topics link together, so it is about answering the question in the most efficient way which could include different texts, names and elements from a range of topics.

Note: You need to revise all areas. These predictions could be completely wrong, so you do not want to be caught out in your last exam.

Also check out: Predictions for Christian Thought (First and Second Year) and Panic “My Exam is Tomorrow!” Must Read for Christian Thought (1st and 2nd Year)

Good Luck

This is your last opportunity to shine and show the examiners what you have learnt!!

Predictions for Christian Thought (First and Second Year)

Last year we were all well and truly in the dark whenhqdefault approaching the first Christian Thought paper. A year on (and maybe a year wiser) we can certainly learn from two areas: the examiners report (see: Examiner’s Report 2017: What can we learn?) and last year’s questions:


Now so far in the first year exams it seems that the areas that were asked last year have been avoided so far this year. OCR are very clever though – they will know this too, which means they might throw a curve ball in and ask the same topic again but a different area.

However going by the pattern so far this means that Augustine, Natural and Revealed Knowledge of God and Moral Principles has not been asked. My gut instinct is that the examiners will not ask a question on both Natural and Revealed and Moral Principles as these are very similar topics (in my view) and both quite dry.

deniswaitley1-2xI think if the examiners asked you a question on Natural and Revealed (such as ‘Knowledge of God can only be revealed.’ Discuss – wording would obviously be a little better) and then a question on the Bible (such as ‘The Bible is the only authority for Christian ethical practices.’ Discuss – wanting you to discus the different denominational approaches) I think that would be a really mean paper!

But….your Philosophy and Ethics so far has been pretty nice. My mantra: Prepare for the worse and hope for the best.

Worst case predications:

Continue reading “Predictions for Christian Thought (First and Second Year)”

Panic “My Exam is Tomorrow!” Must Read for Christian Thought (1st and 2nd Year)

My tips for last year’s first DCT exam consisted of:

  • Use the words in the question throughout your answer
  • Add critical words with ‘because’ throughout to emphasize evaluation
  • Add as many glossary/ key words as possible and link back to the question.

I can’t promise that I have much more than I did last year as far as advice but this is what I have learnt about the six DCT topics (first year):

  1. Use the overlap between topics to your advantage e.g. Moral Principles topic on the different interpretations of scripture is very similar to Natural and Revealed Knowledge of God
  2. Learn 3 quotes (one for a Pope) that can be used in multiple different answers
  3.  Summarize your revision notes into 4-5 main themes per topic (e.g Augustine – Original Sin, Before and after the Fall, Grace and the role of women etc.)
  4. Learn some extra names that can be used as evaluation (e.g. Dawkins compares belief in God to a teapot in space or belief in the tooth fairy). Don’t forget it is only evaluation when you say who presents the most convincing argument.
  5. Work out which topic the question is from and how much you can write for that topic area. Do you have enough for at least 2 sides?

Remember the style of questions and material for the DCT topics is different 41+uCCAOoHLfrom that of Philosophy and Ethics (well I certainly think it is!) It is more descriptive and presents less arguments to really sink your teeth into. However that is not an excuse to not engage with evaluation. What this means is you have to work harder for it. What I found after last year’s DCT exam was that students tended to do better because they were so aware of the question and the need to evaluate, that they actually emphasized it more than they did in Philosophy and Ethics. Good news!! So don’t stress out, focus on what you are asked and try think of any relevant quotes, names, ideas that you have covered in the DCT topics that you can use in relation to the Q.

Pointers for 2nd year DCT:

Continue reading “Panic “My Exam is Tomorrow!” Must Read for Christian Thought (1st and 2nd Year)”

How to Improve your Essay Technique: A-Level DCT Mock Exam

My A2 students have completed their first mock exam under timed conditions. Usually when I set essays for homework students can use their notes and do not complete under time restraints. This is because I want students to develop the right essay writing technique before making things more difficult. However a college wide mock exam meant my students had to finally bite the bullet and complete their first exam paper (questions written by me since there are no previous questions to go on).

  • Task: Answer two from four questions
  • Topics: A2 DCT Pluralism and Gender
  • Time: 40 minutes per question
  • Expectation: Focus on answering the specific question and evaluate everything
  • Help: Students were allowed to use their DCT revision pack notes to support them (Just click on Revision Pack if you would like your own copy of the 55 page pack for a small price)

So what where the questions:

  1. To what extent does an exclusivist view point represent the true Christian message?
  2. Evaluate the view that Christians should have a mission to those of no faith.
  3. To what extent has secular views on gender equality undermined Christian gender roles?
  4. Critically assess the view the Christianity is inherently sexist.

The marking process:

Continue reading “How to Improve your Essay Technique: A-Level DCT Mock Exam”

Gender and Society: Student’s Work

The question was:

“Should official Christian teachings resist current secular views on gender” discuss

Students were given this question as homework. There were no time constraints and students were allowed to use their class notes to help. I believe that students need to first of all develop their technique before removing support (notes) and adding extra pressure of time conditions.

They are currently doing their first mock exam of the year (November 27th) under timed conditions, so have had three months of practicing their essay writing technique first. The students are allowed to use their revision packs for support. By March next year students will do a full exam with no notes and under timed conditions, so this is what we are working towards. If students don’t have the technique, removing notes and adding time pressure will not support them in  improving their writing only aggravate the writing process.

These are three introductions for the essay (my comments can be seen at the end as footnotes):

intro GS.JPG

Examples of main paragraphs:

Continue reading “Gender and Society: Student’s Work”