As part of a Catholic school, it's a major challenge to take religion out of the 'it's compulsory, so I hate it category'. Any ideas on how to move effectively to life-related, mind-engaging, content-robust religious education? The most effective units we have are for senior students "Ethics and ethical controversies" where a range of ethical theories are explored against a background of an ethical issue of the student's choice, and 'Science and the Bible' where various controversies and developments are used to explore different possible ways of Science and Religion relating.
I'm especially pondering good ways to Web 2.0-ise some of the thinking and submitting process.
[I shouldn't need to include a caveat in this area, but just in case. I'm not interested in doctrinaire responses. (I can go to answersingenesis and read Dawkins and Dennett quite happily myself.) I want my students to be thinking, not subscribing to an ideology and least of all someone else's ideology!]

Tags: critical thinking, religion, science

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What age are the kids you are working with? Are they all at High School or are you working with students at other levels as well?
All high school (- 13-18 year-olds). Some days the effective mental age is nothing like the chronological one!
There's another reply to this lost in the digisphere. So I'll reconstruct it. First, I mean what I say at the start of this discussion. Second our school does not overtly or covertly impede discussion of these issues. Third our senior course is externally set in a state context and has an expectation of many views being examined, explored and understood. Fourth, (to pick up the ideology point I explicitly wasn't looking for) if I introduce the claim that dinosaur fossils are here to test faith, I expect to see some critical thinking skills in action in response. (As well as the comment that if the bones are that big, how big must the dogs have been!?)
I'm assuming if you're exploring how your faith affects science, ethics, etc, that you're familiar with which is perhaps the greatest Bible search on the web (more languages, more versions, and more different ways to search than just about any other site). Some of the study tools at might prove useful, too. (I haven't looked closely at those.)
Well, I'm not demanding that we start from a faith position - I'm happy to track some trajectories which will touch on what is (are) science and its operations, similarly for religion - and ethics. The exploration then needs to continue with regard to independence, interdependence, dialogue, integration, or conflict of these trajectories.
Yes, indeed, I know the resources you've mentioned - already point my students here. I guess I'm looking for ideas which help engage students, the study tools and resources are OK.
Our pastor set up a social network on NEXO (I think it is similar to NING for his confirmation students. He has polls, he starts discussions on things touched on in class, etc.
Thanks for that.
Exposing students to altenative ways of interpreting 'reality' is perhaps the best strategy we can opt for to set ourselves and our students 'critically thinking' together.

This link may contribute towards achieving such an objective.
Thanks for that too, Ali. And the whole idea of interpreting 'reality', whether there is one reality, several, none, and whether our disciplines are capable of fully interpreting the realities in which we are set or - if you want to be postmodern about it - the realities which we construct or choose is of central importance to critical thinking. Then of course the chain leads into questions of truth and verification...
My difficulty, I think, is that I find all these questions fascinating [my students, by and large don't - in a world keen on commodification of everything: from sex to knowledge; I'm looking for a way beyond the pragmatic 'what's the dollar value on this?' objection. It shouldn't worry me, but many of our educationalists have swallowed this line, and it becomes an intense pressure bent on warping the value of knowledge and wisdom into a facility with technological tools.
To clarify, you're talking about some sort of presuppositional apologetics? They have to realize their starting point and underlying assumptions, defend them where appropriate, and figure out how they play out in different fields. Is this what you're after?
Ta. Yes, that's more or less in my mind. Perhaps more - presuppositional explorations (to avoid the word metaphysics). I have an apologetics agenda - for both science and religion - Carmichael 1.0 is a mathematics and physiocs release, Carmichael 1.5 is a philosophy of education version, Carmichael 2.0 is theology and pastoring, Carmichael 2.95 is a portal to the earlier releases through computer science.
Ian, before they can think on anything, they have to be given info to think with.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church isn't a bad document. I find it rather amazing in scope.

I also find that quantum theory poses some interesting philosophical questions. If a baseball flying over the edge of a cliff has a certain probability of never falling; if a laser pulse is both wave and particle and no scientist can say otherwise; if there may be eleven dimensions to the physical universe, there should be some material there to work with. The Vatican Observatory site seems to have some interesting stuff.

But what about good old history? Galileo's conflict? Martin Luther's? On reviewing the latter's life, do the students think he was all there? What of the Inquisition? How did faith affect Lincoln, Washington, King, Jr.?

I just made my way through How the Irish Saved Civilization, a good tail of the ebb and flow of respect for learning, and the meeting of different cultures and faith traditions.

What about just comparisons of modern Christianity in America? I should think this would be multicultural enough for any diversity advocate!! Can you summarize The American Religion (Bloom) for them?

And, can you bring up our new friends the Shia? Their long tragic story is certainly worth knowing in these times, and ought to keep the students a little engaged. The 12th Imam will come back along with Jesus? I should think they'd find that interesting. And then compare the philosophies of president Ahmadinejad, al-Sadr (Jr.), and Grand Ayatolla Ali al-Sistani.

Yep, would make a good web 2.0 site!!



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