Sunday, 10 May 2015

WJEC AS Religion in Contemporary Society: Past Paper Questions and 2015 Guesses

Photo: Wikimedia
I've collected together the WJEC Religion in Contemporary Society past paper questions from 2009 (except for Religion and TV and NRMs as I don't teach these), which you might find useful for exam prep and essay practice. You can find them here (you may need a Google account).

I've also had a stab at guessing what might come up this year and have come up with these dummy questions, which I set as a mini mock for my Year 12s.

Medical and Environmental Ethics
(a) Outline religious and moral arguments concerning the use of animals as pets and entertainment. [30]
(b) ‘Religious believers should support animal rights.’ Assess this view. [15]

Religion and Community
(a) Outline the evidence for the concept of secularisation. [30]
(b) ‘Religion has little relevance in the modern world.’ Assess this view. [15]

Religion and the Individual
(a) Examine Jung’s view of religious belief [30]
(b) ‘Psychological explanations of religion have no value.’ Assess this view. [15]

These are just my guesses, of course, based upon what has and hasn't come up in the last few years, and just so we're clear I have no knowledge of the actual exam paper! But my reasoning is as follows:

The use of animals as pets and entertainment is on the syllabus, but has never been the focus of an exam question, so might come up this time. I tend to think that part b questions are a little harder to guess, but there's something on the syllabus about the compatibility of animal rights with religious principles, so perhaps we are due for a question on this area.  Euthanasia came up last summer, which is why I've plumped for Animal Rights, but there has been a fairly even spread in recent years. If the question is on Euthanasia, I wonder if the focus might be on religious arguments for and/or against.

In Religion and Community, again there's been a fairly even spread in recent years so the only reason for picking a question on Secularisation is that Fundamentalism came up last year. It's been four years since a question on the evidence for secularisation, so I wouldn't be surprised if it came up this year. Last year's Fundamentalism question looked at the characteristics of fundamentalism, so that's unlikely to come up this year - so something on the causes of fundamentalism would be a better bet if I'm wrong about the question being on secularisation.

In Religion and the Individual, Freud has been the focus of the last three summer questions, so I think Jung is a pretty good bet to come up. The question I've come up with is pretty general, but the might me a more focused question - on the archetypes maybe? A part a on Jung may well be followed by a Jung part b, but you have to go back four years to find a part b question which assesses the general validity of psychological approaches to religion, which is why I've plumped for my part b question.

So those are my thoughts. If you teach (or study) RICS, let me know if you think my questions are along the right lines or if you think something else might come up.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Secularisation / Fundamentalism Revision Games

Revision time for GCSEs and A Levels is upon us, and students up and down the land are no doubt spending every possible hour practicing past papers and creating technicolour mind maps. Or am I just being wildly optimistic?

Here are some revision activities on Secularisation and Fundamentalism, from the WJEC Religion and Community topic for AS. I find they work nicely as quick starters, helping students consolidate their knowledge of key terms, while giving me an overview of what areas might need extra clarification and revision. Included are keywords for an Articulate style game, keyword pairs, and some suggestions for different revision activities using the keywords. Plenty to keep your students busy!

Also of use might be these student revision self-assessment sheets for fundamentalism and secularisation.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

World Book Day Shelfie

Today is World Book Day, which celebrates books, authors and reading around the world. To mark the occasion, my school's English Department are running a little competition, where teachers submit a shelfie - a photo of their bookshelf - and students have to guess which photo belongs to which teacher.

So in the spirit of inter-departmental co-operation, here is my shelfie:

I'm travelling between places a fair amount at the moment, so I've most recently been reading e-books. Perhaps next year I'll be taking a picture of my kindle and a screenshot of my goodreads account?

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Features of Jesus' Miracles Mnemonic

I like to create short mnemonics around the topics I'm teaching. I tend to find that they really help students retain information, and avoid missing out chunks of important material when writing essays. A quick test on a mnemonic is also a ready-made starter task! 

In our Year 12 class, we're currently studying miracles as part of our New Testament module, and this is a little mnemonic I've come up with to help remember seven key features of Jesus' miracles.

The features, and the explanations below, are adapted from Gwynn ap Gwilym's WJEC textbook:

Command - Jesus performs some miracles with only a verbal command. This is the case with nature miracles, but also elsewhere, e.g. the possessed man in Capernaum synagogue. 
Only where there is faith - Faith is a common feature of the miracle stories, while both Mark (6:5) and Matthew (13:58) tell us Jesus performed few miracles in his home town because people did not believe in him.
At a distance - Jesus does not need to be present to perform a miracle, for example, the healing of the centurion's servant.
Touch - Jesus is able to perform miracles by touch, such as healing the ear of the high priest's servant.
Pity for suffering - The miracles demonstrate Jesus' compassion for suffering humanity. Healing miracles are good examples of this, as is the feeding of the 4,000, where Jesus says he has compassion for the hungry crowd.
Evidence not always accepted - Those who did not believe in Jesus attribute the miracles to Satan, e.g. the teachers of the Law in Mark 3:20-30.
Glorify God - The purpose of Jesus' miracles is to bring glory not to Jesus, but to God. For example, when the widow of Nain's son is resurrected, the people glorify God.

I've also created a PowerPoint slide that can be dropped into revision lessons (if you're a teacher).

I'd say that if you could remember these seven features, and support each with examples, you would be well on your way to getting a good grade in 30 mark AS question. That said, I'd be interested to know whether you think the list is a good one, or whether any features should be added or removed?

Saturday, 6 December 2014

RS Question of the Week - Can You Commit a Crime Against Someone Before They're Born?

Photo: BBC

This week's question of the week is taken from the sad story of a seven-year-old girl born with severe brain damage after her mother drank up to eight cans of strong lager and half a bottle of vodka per day while pregnant.

Three judges ruled that she was not entitled to criminal damages under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme as the damage she undoubtedly suffered was inflicted while she was a foetus, not while she was a person: UK law only recognises crimes against persons.

The key questions I've been discussing with my students are:
  • Can you commit a crime against somebody before they are born?
  • At what point does a foetus become a person?

You can download a poster for this week's question here, and a pdf of a Daily Mirror story (yes, I know) about the case here.

Monday, 24 November 2014

RS Question of the Week - Music to Die For

This week's Questions of the Week come from the news that Monty Python's Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life has become the most popular song at British funerals.

The questions I've asked around this are:
  • Why do people choose music for their own funeral, when they won't be around to hear it?
  • Which song would you choose for your own funeral and why? 

You can download the posters for the QOTW to use in your own classroom here.

My choice would be Otis Redding's Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay, with Nirvana's cover Jesus Don't Want Me For A Sunbeam on standby for any encores. What would you choose?

Saturday, 22 November 2014

RS Question of the Week - Ched Evans

Recently, I've been sticking a few questions up in and on the door to my classroom to prompt a bit of discussion and give me an extra starter task if I need it. This week, I've used the Ched Evans news story as the basis for the questions.

The questions and the story prompted some really good contributions from some of my Year 10 and 11 students, and I was pleased that they were keen to share their thoughts (and their own questions) without me having to prompt them. In fact, one of my students brought along a question from one of her friends, who I don't even teach!

The questions I used were:
  1. Do all criminals deserve a second chance?
  2. Does it matter if they haven’t apologised for their crime?
  3. Should criminals be allowed to work in jobs where they could earn £1000s every week?
  4. What is a "role model", and why do we expect sports starts to act as role models?
If you want to use the questions in your own classroom, you can download the poster here.