Literacy and numeracy within Religious Studies framework:
The meaning of literacy and numeracy within the religious education sector hence, has a contextual meaning rather than a strict disparate meaning. The meaning of literacy consequently includes the understanding and elucidations of religious texts (scriptures and commentaries), jargon and relative words and phrases. Such examples are numerous and ubiquitous in modern religious-literate societies as opposed to religious-illiterate ones. Some common examples of phrases and words include ‘apostle’, ‘atone for sins’, ‘Mount Sinai’, ‘omniscience’, ‘sacrifice’ and ‘Sufi’. In addition, the common theme with scripture-based discourse is that of narrative or command style and is always static, or frozen, in nature (Joos, 1962). It is similar with respect to particular verses and chapters for which modern day meanings may be resolved. Numeracy on the other hand when juxtaposed, is the clarifications of religious dates, timelines, numbers in scripture and their denotations (such as Bible references), symbols like those of stars, crescents, crucifixes and the like, as well as the contemplation of maps and geographical environments through their associated (relationship) meanings with the text they are in. Therefore, resulting in the ability to make decisions and judgements based on the information. (Crowe, 2010), (Geiger et al., 2014), (All Things St. Claire’s Comprehensive, 2016) The intended meanings of literacy and numeracy can thus, be deduced to be very different from the original meanings of being able to read, write and compute basic math problems. If such a definition was to be applied to the study of religious education, it would result in the inability to contexualise the literature albeit having the ability to read and write with aptitude for religious studies.
The difficulties faced by teachers and students in the religious studies sphere relating to literacy are just as complex as those in the numeracy aspects. The first challenge faced is that few teachers are focusing on religious areas compared to those of other fields and therefore, very few teachers are competent enough to teach religious studies to a high degree. Then, the literacy demands faced by teachers and students change as students move through the schooling system as the texts and commentaries will vary and become more theoretical and specialised throughout the years. (Moore, 2014) The intricacy of the texts is further affected by the density of ideologies and theoretic that may not be well grasped by either student or teacher. Such demands are only met when textual knowledge, grammatical knowledge, intercultural and contextual knowledge align within the reader or writer. The numeracy facet concurrently relates generally, to the capacity to construct and reflect on information in timelines, scriptural references and appropriate maps and diagrams. Such examples are prevalent in every religion and scripture from symbols to religious holy sites. Vince Geiger et al. (2015) assembled a model to aid teachers in the enhancement of learning across the curriculum which will be very useful if implemented accurately when teaching about religion.
Application of a systematic model for 21st century learners:
The topic of focus is the story of Moses in Abrahamic faiths. I have chosen this because it is relatable through the three Abrahamic beliefs and many derivations can be taken from it. It is seen as a narrative of devotion, sacrifice and selflessness to which every student (and teacher) can find meaning.
It must be noted here, that religious studies is a subject that must be viewed through different perceptions and dated commentaries on original sources must be taken in to consideration when making judgements.
Constructing an educational atmosphere:
It is to be emphasised in the first lesson, or session, that the main learning outcome is: a. to establish a learner-centered environment for all; b. to create an unbiased view of religions and scriptures; and c. to integrate religious studies in to other fields (biodiversity).
The first class will be an introduction to the program with some basic questions surrounding preexisting knowledge. A group activity of two-four students will be set where students are required to write down any former knowledge in dot points and what they plan to take away from the class. Then finally, a class response dialogue as to the modes of learning best suited to the topic with discussion of integrated ICT aspects (interactive graphs, diagrams, possible individual or group project). Furthermore, a discussion as to the lenses one may approach the study with.
Cultural view to religious studies:
A cultural standpoint will be in order to eradicate any religious bias tendencies. For example, common vocabulary used within all three scriptures will be used interchangeably with no preference given. Subsequently, lending a neutral approach to the topic. It also important for students to recognise that many biases are relative to certain individuals and allow students to draw on their contextual knowledge to shape their own philosophies; without creating a context it is possible to engender anxiety and defensiveness over specific issues. The ultimate objective here is to create a viewing periscope through which students can analyse a religious situation and confront it culturally rather than emotionally (within a context). An application of this may be to construct a historical map of Egypt detailing the journey made by Moses and his followers with accurate terminologies and designations including measurements and distances.
Integration through religious studies:
With the foundations set, the theme of religion will continue to be discussed throughout the course. The course will offer students several opportunities to analyse religion in shaping societies/cultures within the historical context and today’s modern world. This might be achieved through worksheets and classroom discussions about the themes covered. Furthermore, it will give them the chance to distinguish between religion as devotional and spiritual practices and religion as a source for geosocial morals and norms.