Relationship between Science and Religious Education

This week in Irish schools it is science week. Schools all over the country are embracing this by inviting science groups in for science fun days filled with experiments and active learning. I thought this would be a good week to talk about the relationship between science and religion in my non-exam RE classes.The relationship between science and religion has changed in recent years. Once both subjects were seen to be in conflict with one another but today it is recognised that they can work together and be compatible. Students were open to this idea in my school and they understood the importance of taking the subject in its context. God-and-scientist

One student aged 14 said ‘Science is about the brain but religion and faith is about the heart’. Another 16 said ‘Science explains how we live physically but religion tells us what we should do with our lives in order to make them good.’

While planning for these lessons I came across the following resources that I was able to draw from and incorporate in my class.

  1. The BBC Bitesize website has an excellent collection of short video clips on science and religion how they differ and cooperate. Bitesize
  2. Faraday schools is a website set up for teachers teaching  religion and science. It is filled with lesson ideas, video clips, worksheets and discussion topics that are excellent for the RE classroom. What I really like about this website is that it draws from lots of different religious backgrounds.
  3. The National Centre for Science Education has a section devoted to science and religion which includes opinions from religious people and scientists on the relationship between the both and their personal opinions. This website while a good resource for the teacher might be a bit heavy for students. It is very academic in style and I would recommend it to a teacher researching the topic. Although some of the information could be simplified in a powerpoint for students.

The internet is filled with resources for this topic but as a starting point the three links above are the place to go. Half way through the week this topic has been a success with all of the groups I have started it with and I am looking forward to the feedback students will give on Friday when we conclude our discussions.

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Team Teaching

Team Teaching is ‘a group of two or more teachers working together to plan, conduct and evaluate the learning activities for the same group of learners.’ (Goetz, 2000) Team teaching is becoming more popular in education today. The advantages of team teaching include: students have two teachers to ask for help and support, students can connect with a different personality, different teaching and learning styles will take place, there is support for the teachers, lessons are planned together incorporating different ideas and creativity and teachers working together model teamwork and cooperation for students to experience. However there are also difficulties with team teaching. These can include a conflict of interests, clash of personality, an unfair distribution of the workload, different teaching styles, marking tests and classwork, different discipline methods and a feeling of unease teaching in front of a peer. The last one I think is a very real fear for some teachers. This week I was asked by a teacher to co-teach a lesson on minority religions. I agreed straight away but when I was planning what to bring to this lesson I found I was much more critical of my resources and approaches than I normally am. This got me thinking about this blog post and how we can overcome these fears of judgement in order to utilise team teaching to its maximum potential. From researching about team teaching I have compiled a list of ten ways to overcome any fears or hesitations you may have when it comes to team teaching. Feel free to add to this, agree or disagree below in the comments.

  1. Be prepared: Get together with your co-teacher and plan the lesson together. Talk about what resources you will use and the approaches you will take. Will you split the class or take turns teaching?
  2. Get to know the Co Teacher: Establish a rapport with the person. You will be working very closely with them for a number of weeks or months it is important to try to get along as much as possible.
  3. Know your content: If you know what you are talking about you will find you are less nervous. No body wants to make a fool of themselves in front of a peer (or anybody for that matter).
  4. Know your classroom: If possible go to the room you will be teaching in. Make sure there is enough space and you can both walk around to interact with students. No body likes an awkward side step or to fall over each other.
  5. Communicate: Talk about your teaching and learning styles with the co-teacher. What are your opinions on discipline? How do you reward students? Try to co-operate and merge your styles to create something that works for both of you.
  6. Be honest: If you are nervous before the class tell the other teacher. More than likely they feel the same or they will understand if you do happen to make a mistake or two before settling in.
  7. Observations: Sometimes peer teachers decide to observe each other teaching first in order to see how they can merge together successfully. Only difficulty is deciding who goes first 🙂
  8. Take it for what it is: The aim of team teaching is not to judge each others teaching abilities but to offer support for the students and each other. Realise that the focus of the lessons is not you it is the students.
  9. Reflections: Meet regularly with your co teacher to talk about what is going well and what needs to be looked at in a different way.
  10. Just do it: No better way to get over a fear than to jump straight in 🙂

These tips have helped me prepare and calm down for my first team teaching experience. I hope they can do the same for somebody else.

Happy Teaching 🙂