What were we trying to achieve?
The Faith Garden and Trail has no mention of any specific faith but allows for philosophical questioning that can be extended and developed to specific faiths in a place of worship with members of that faith community. The three circles in the garden are based on the Fibonacci sequence.
The aim was for pupils:
- to understand shared values and the part faith plays through an interactive experience
- to have an opportunity for spiritual development by including time for reflection in two places
- to enhance their understanding of religions and beliefs through making links to other areas of learning and to wider issues of interest and importance
- to enhance their historical, geographical and social understanding
Who was involved?
The Year 3 class with teachers, teaching assistants, parents and vicar.
Interfaith staff worked with the class teacher prior to the visit by telephone and visited the school to plan the visit and discuss the learning outcomes.
How did we organise the learning?
Half a day was spent at each place. At Oakwell Hall pupils were put into 2 groups. Both groups explored what the circle of life meant, using the story of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and discussed what was needed to make a circle of standing stones into a permanent place. The grass mound allowed them to think of big questions.
They then followed the faith trail stopping at four places. These gave opportunities to:
- debate how we choose which way to go in life;
- talk about promises;
- listen to sounds and think about our environment;
- wonder about how the world works and our part in it. A time for reflection ended with writing wishes on rice paper and placing them on an old wall.
At the mosque, there was a focus on creation. The class split into 2 groups, both exploring wuzu and prayer and its symbolism, and exploring what happens and why in the madressah using an Islamic story.
What was the impact of the experience?
`The pupils particularly liked putting rice paper in the wall with a promise or thought’.
`The mosque visit was excellent. They talked lots about the washing of hands, ears, etc back at school and remembered why each part was washed.’
Staff thought that open-ended questions were a good way of encouraging the children to think and reflect, and talking partners gave them the opportunity to share their views.
The pupils used a postcard format as a way of evaluation and sent these to the Oakwell Hall hosts.
Pupils drew mind maps of the day with likes and dislikes. The class made a Big Book including photos, quotes and evaluations.