Friday, March 27, 2015

The school seminar

I've just finished my four week prac placement at a local high school. It was great. It made me realise how handy my degree in classics is, especially for teaching Shakespeare. I'm sad to leave.

Here's what happened on the last day.

A religious seminar was scheduled for this day. There are four periods timetabled for each day. A group of Christians were scheduled to deliver a seminar to Years 7, 8, 9, and 10 over the course of the day. Teachers were told that they were to teach no new material if students were absent from their class due to attending  the seminar. This, of course, disrupted teaching and learning, especially preparation for assessment tasks.

I had a free period so I sat in on the seminar. Students were lined up to get their names marked off. The seminars were 'opt out' so those who didn't bring a note were expected to attend.even if they weren't interested and had other work to do. I asked the volunteer what group was running the seminar and she told me she didn't know. Students sat in circles with an adult Christian in each group. A leader (I'm not calling these people teachers) showed a video of people answering the question 'what happens when you die?'

They then presented a little skit about what's behind the screen. One person said there was nothing. One person said something the students would like, for example, movie tickets. Another went behind the screen to look and said it was something else that they would like. The students then guessed. The one who guessed 'lollies' received the lollies.

Then the leaders spoke about the resurrection, and how Paul said if the resurrection didn't really happen then there is no reason to love Jesus. They then presented 'evidence' to refute arguments that Jesus didn't rise from the dead. All this 'evidence' came from one source, the New Testament, with no discussion about the validity of that evidence or any question about presenting proof from any other source. The historical truth of the bible was accepted without question. The idea that there was no resurrection was mocked. It was spoken of as a 'fact'.

A leader then said that this may be convincing, but so what? Why does it mean we should have a relationship with Jesus? Then another leader spoke about how, when he was fifteen he had a few near death experiences - accidents, and appendicitis. When he was waiting for surgery he was scared, but was comforted by the idea that Jesus loves him. That was presented as 'testimony'.

A student then promoted the school's Christian club, the leaders told students about local church youth groups and gathered their email addresses.

I didn't say anything during the seminar. I'm sure you can see how intellectually bereft it was. I felt I'd drifted a long way away from teaching ethics classes, or any critical thinking that is encouraged in the classes I'd been teaching at the school. What I did do I'll save for another day. Or you can ask me.

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