Teaching children to respect others
In a divided nation, how can we promote community cohesion?
It’s an issue that’s close to the heart of Barnabas in Schools – BRF’s professional religious education service. Each year the Barnabas team brings Christianity to life in hundreds of primary schools all over England, enthusing and inspiring children and teaching staff alike through creative Barnabas RE Days covering a wide range of themes supported by inexpensive or free resource material on barnabasinschools.org.uk and through empowering INSET sessions.
Where community cohesion is particularly fragile, four Barnabas topics are especially relevant: Who is My Neighbour? and three that come together under the heading Creating Character - Friendship, Forgiveness and Peace, Compassion, Service and Community and Respect, Resilience and Responsibility.
Exploring community relations through Bible stories
Staff were pleased to notice children using the words ‘respect’ and ‘responsibility’ during the discussions, demonstrating that the sessions were effective in extending children’s moral vocabulary and increasing their understanding through real-life examples.
Later, some Year 5 pupils (aged 9-10) experienced the same workshop, throwing themselves into the role play with gusto.
They were struck by how the apostle Paul began his voyage as a prisoner, but he ended it as the decisive leader of a panicking crew through taking responsibility and being respectful.
The afternoon workshops on Compassion, Service and Community included the stories of the paralysed man (whose friends overcame obstacles, letting him through a hole in the roof to place him at Jesus’ feet), the dilemmas in caring for the elderly community faced by the early church, and the apostle Paul’s idea of the church working together as a ‘body’.
At a time when community relationships are under stress, we don’t know what kind of language and ideas children are being exposed to outside of school. As the comments from St Paul’s shows, children fortunate enough to experience one of these Barnabas RE Days will leave school that day understanding the difference it makes when we treat others with respect, compassion and responsibility, serve others in the community and be resilient and forgiving when things go wrong.
‘The quality of the sessions was excellent, and our children were clearly inspired to think more deeply about these important issues.’
Could you help?
Last year, we delivered 143 creative arts-based Barnabas RE Days helping 29,000 primary school pupils explore Christianity creatively and confidently. With public sector schools under increasingly severe financial pressure and having to cut ‘extras’ from the budget, could you donate to help us keep this service affordable?