Dr. Sentamu does Scarborough

IMG_8073_Scarborough_Sixth_Form_College_Scarborough_Deanery_Mission_LAWe were very lucky at Scarborough Sixth Form College to have a visit a few weeks ago from the Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu. Whilst on his tour of the local area, visiting places such as St Catherine’s hospice, a selection of local schools and of course sampling the famous fish and chips, he stopped by to answer some pressing questions from my students. Here is a summary of some of his most notable quotes that could be used in an exam, as all questions were linked to parts of the spec:

Salvation/ Death and Afterlife:

  • “Nobody is outside the love of God”
  • “Hell is the description of unimaginable emptiness”
  • “I have studied many religions, Buddhism, Sikhism, Judaism and Islam and yet I chose Christianity as my path. Salvation is a gift from God that is not attainable through good behaviour. Hell is a place where God is absent, when we are separated from God, the results are pretty dire.”
  • “Salvation is a gift, you don’t earn it. You either receive it or reject it”
  • “Salvation is now not in future” (similar to Gutierrez ‘Kingdom of God’ in Liberation Theology)

Christianity in a Multi-Faith Society:

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Liberation Theology and Marx: A2 DCT


Preview of Lesson Plans:

Research task (sheets in booklet)

  1. Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02ddGtKZuSU and fill in the fact file on Marx
  2. Answer the questions on Marxism (found on the worksheet)

PP: Slide one: Using your research – how would a Marxist explain the meaning of this image?

PP slides: 3-7 covering what Liberation Theology is, where is began and what it promotes and then how it links to Marxism and capitalism.

Worksheet: Using the quotes from Marx answer the questions – using phones if necessary to find meaning of any words unsure of.

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Challenge of Secularism: A2 DCT

Preview of Lesson Plans:

  • Discussion question: Do you think Britain is secular? Yes/no – share as a class (note: students interpret this Q to mean less Christian so use as a way to explain the difference between decline in Christianity vs meaning of secular)
  • PP: slides 2-3 (use the pp slides to structure the next few activities/ discussion points)
  • What does Feuerbach’s quote mean?feuerbach.png
  • Answer: Why do people need religion? Discuss varies answers as a class
  • Activity: Create a fact file on Freud explaining his views on why religion is seen as wish fulfilment, a delusion and unhealthy

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Avoid ‘name dumping’: Developing A02

Rounding off everything before half term always leads to a little self-reflection on how the term has gone. The conclusion for this half term was that my first years needed more:

  • Support structuring their evaluation,
  • Help to recognize what evaluation was,
  • Ways to actually get off the fence and start thinking critically.

The first area I wanted to tackle was ‘name dumping’ where students use names of thinkers but re-state their point and do not do anything with it. When using any names in the exam, each one needs to be used critically in reference to the question, just by stating their criticisms of another person’s argument is NOT evaluation. The examiner wants to know what you think about how successful their criticism is.

So I created a very quick writing frame that not only helped structure evaluation in a paragraph but showed the students how to engage critically with the views presented. Students could choose from F.R Tennants and Arthur Brown’s views and/or the Goldilocks Argument as supporters or Dawkins (digger wasp/ memes) and Stephen Fry (bone cancer argument) as critics.

para structure

Now I’m not a fan of writing frames as I find them too restrictive on the flow of arguments. So I asked the students at the end whether they found it useful or not. It was pretty much a unanimous ‘yes’. Even though their answers read a little disjointed, the activity achieved what it was meant to do – to avoid name dumping and for them to recognize how to structure their arguments using supporters, critics and defences.

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Open Evening Ideas for A Level R.S

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)

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First Year Exam Paper Breakdown: Philosophy Soul Question

Here’s a breakdown of a student’s answer for the question on the Soul, Mind, Body unit from the new spec exams 2016 (first years).

‘There is no such thing as a soul’ Discuss (30)

OCR marks given for student’s answer:
A01 9/15
A02 8/15

I used this answer as part of my lesson on essay writing for this unit. I gave the students 3 highlighters: critical words (purple) , use of ‘no/ such thing’ (blue) and every time a new name is used (green). What was clear very quickly is that this student used multiple critical words, wide selection of scholarly names and linked points back to the question.

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