NAT or ‘National AIDS Trust’ is a charity that helps people with AIDS. It is a fact that most people with AIDS dont know that they have it so this charity helps them find and treat it as best they can.
Find out more info about NAT on there web site http://www.nat.org.uk/. By going on this website you can donate money to help. They receive some government funding but you can donate more.
They work closely with a range of different people – including other charities, people living with HIV, doctors, lawyers and other experts – and use all the latest evidence to develop fresh and independent thinking on HIV and to identify solutions.
Their thinking influences national policy development and the actions of people and organisations across the UK who have the greatest impact on the lives of people living with HIV. They believe that by working in this way we can make the biggest difference to the largest number of lives.
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At the ATRES conference this year both Brian Boyd and Patricia Watson delivered presentations on A Curriculum For Excellence and the role RMPS plays within the new curriculum’s delivery. Boyd, who was part of the original group that envisaged what ACE might be, said it was replacing a system (5-14) which was created out of a lack of trust in the teaching profession. ACE, he believes, is all about trust. Interestingly, Boyd stated that there was no topic in the working group he was a part of in which RME wasn’t included. This suggests, he stated, that ‘RME is at the heart of the curriculum in the 21st Century’.More generally, Boyd discussed what he considered to be the main Barriers to change. These are:
- The Examination system – are we placing too much weight on summative assessment?
- Professional Vested Interests – are we afraid as to where the new curriculum might take us?
- HMIe – do inspections create a climate of fear and unnecessary paper work?
- Nostalgia to a Golden Age – are we more inclined to look back to an age which didn’t even exist rather than look ahead to a potentially fruitful future?
Boyd appeared to reject the idea that Outcomes were necessary in the delivery of ACE, which was interesting considering Patricia Watson delivered the following presentation. Watson is responsible for the creation of the new RME Outcomes!
Watson’s presentation was incredibly thought provoking as she opened with the following statement. ‘Truly excellent means:
- Excellent teacher
- Excellent RME Department
- Excellent learner in RME’.
She then posed the question ‘What projected image do we give to our colleagues, pupils and parents?’ This certainly encouraged me to carry out more evaluation of the department and myself within the school community. Ultimately, I felt incredibly positive leaving the presentation. As a teacher of RMPS I felt confident that my subject:- makes a significant contribution to the curriculum- Is really well placed to take forward ACE.- Can make a significant contribution to the wider life of the school outside of the classroom.However, Watson made it clear that there are still areas we need to work harder at. RME is about challenging pupils, not enjoyment. The subject must also constantly strive to be relevant to the lives of the pupils by including other patterns of living in Scottish Society. ACE has raised the benchmark for teachers, schools and Scottish education in its widest sense. As Watson stated, excellence means ‘the very best there is’, and that is some challenge for us to rise to.
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Recently in Higher RMPS we have been looking at the Buddhist practice of Meditation. Meditation is often a difficult concept for pupils to understand as, understandably, very few have encountered it before and any knowledge and understanding they do have is usually of meditation for relaxation purposes (which is quite different from Buddhist Meditation).
Pupils have been exploring the differences between Samatha (stilling) meditation and Vipassana (insight) meditation. As an introduction we looked at various calming images and thankas before trying a period of focussed meditation, concentrating on our breathing. As a stimulus I showed a meditation video downloaded from YouTube. As expected, several pupils found it all too much, but the majority of the class said, although it was hard, they could see the benefits of meditation as a regular practice.
For Vipassana meditation we discussed how hard it is to ‘strip away’ layers of reality (or the illusion of reality). This is a hard concept for pupils to understand and the best way I could think of to demonstrate it was by showing the Robbie Williams Rock DJ music video – surprisingly it worked well and pupils seem to now understand the differences between these two different forms of Buddhist meditation.
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In Higher and Intermediate2 RMPS this year we are using some new materials written by Joe Walker. The books are an absolute asset to anyone teaching the new Higher/Int2 course.
Issues of Buddhism is based around all of the SQA course materials but goes into much more depth on topics such as the Noble Eightfold Path and Five Precepts. What is so great about the book is that many of the tasks begin in the world of the child before progressing to knowledge and understanding, then analysis and evaluation exam style questions. Additionally, Joe has included some past exam questions and useful homework assignments.
Morality in the Modern World is much the same and can be used more widely for core RMPS lessons as well as in certificated classes. It begins by addressing aspects of moral philosophy from the ancient Euthyphro dilemma to modern utilitarian thought. After this there are detailed and up-to-date chapters on all the optional units (Crime and Punishment, Gender, War and Peace, International Issues and Medical Ethics).
I don’t have any criticisms to make of these publications but only wish the publishers had included some past papers (with marking schemes).
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After teaching the Intermediate2 Free Standing Unit ‘Justice in the World’ for several years we are piloting a new S5 core RMPS course this year at Knox Academy called ‘A Matrix of Meanings’. I was inspired to introduce this course after seeing North Berwick High School implement a similar course whilst I was a student there.
S5 core RMPS, as some readers may be aware of, has the potential to be a tricky business. Pupils have a heavy workload with certificated courses, which they have chosen to take, and often core RMPS is not, understandably, a priority for them. Therefore, the subject, I believe at this stage, must more than ever be engaging and inspiring. A Matrix of Meanings, from my experience of teaching it so far, is proving to be just that. Every teacher is taking a different approach and using a variety of film and media case studies. Some films we’ve looked at in my classes so far include:
o Saved! (directed by Brian Dannelly)
o Crash (directed by Paul Haggis)
o The Edukators (directed by Hans Weingartner)
Importantly, this course isn’t just about watching films. After every viewing at least one lesson is spent discussing the religious, moral and philosophical issues the film raises. Once we had watched Saved pupils’ discussed the dangers of fundamentalism, issues relating to sexuality and sexual freedom, as well as relationships. Crash stirred ups issues relating to race, human nature and conflict. Marxism and consumerism were debated (at length I might add) after viewing the Edukators.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas we are hoping to take these lessons even further by entering pupils into Philosophy Slam, a global essay based competition. The question which pupils have to answer this year is ‘Is global warming the greatest challenge facing humankind?’ Hopefully Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth will spark some discussion.
If any readers have suggestions of other titles we could look at in this course, please leave a comment.
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Last Wednesday the Knox Academy Higher RMPS class were ambassadors for their school when they visited New College, Edinburgh University’s School of Divinity & Religious Studies. All pupils thoroughly enjoyed the day and earnestly took notes whilst listening to lectures on topics ranging from Evil in Harry Potter to Shamanism.
Teaching and support staff from New College commented on the professionalism and enthusiasm of Knox pupils since many were keen to ask further questions at the end of lectures.
I have to say the excursion left me feeling slightly nostalgic about by own university experience and I was extremely proud to share my academic past with present pupils (some of whom, I hope, will study at New College).
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An idea being floated at the moment in our ‘faculty’ is integration. Its becoming a bit of a dirty word in some respects as all members of staff are worried about the negative effects it would have on learning and teaching.
At first, I have to admit, I was quite excited about the prospect of working more closely with other departments, sharing ideas and developing new materials etc. However, the more I reflect on integration I find myself becoming somewhat unsettled. I think, deep down, I’m a traditionalist when it comes to education. I see education as being a journey which allows the learner to specialise in a particular field as they develop interests and show particular flare in different areas.
In the primary years, non-specialist teachers help pupils learn via a project based approach whereby pupils’ touch on issues such as science, history, geography and religion in a topic, for example ‘Ancient Rome’. As pupils progress in High School they begin to develop skills learnt in the primary sector but are propelled further by subject specialist teachers who have a passion for their subject area. This is not to say no links are made between subjects; for example both History and RMPS at Knox address the Civil Rights Movement. However, the emphasis is very different. History looks at the key figures, analyses and weighs up the evidence. RMPS, conversely, looks at the spiritual nature of protest and the immorality of segregation.
I guess I’m worried about potentially diluting the learners’ experience and presenting a shallow, stretched and restricted overview on some really interesting and, of course, complex subjects areas. I love what I do, I love my subject and, at the end of the day, is it wrong that I’m not really turned on by ox bow lakes?
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Today I had the opportunity to organise anti-bullying sessions as part of the S1 induction day. The task, although daunting, was worthwhile and I feel pupils found the sessions I ran challenging. I decided that, rather than formally present the schools anti-bullying policy to the pupils, it would be more helpful to have an informal discussion about the causes and effects of bullying. All classes were open and honest and appeared to display real empathy with the topic in hand. However, a question which kept on being raised was ‘are teachers doing enough to eliminate bullying?’ and ‘What does a zero tolerance approach to bullying look like in practice?’
See www.bullying.co.uk for more information.
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I’ve just returned from a fantastic Educational Excursion to the South of France with a group of S2 pupils. We travelled with PGL and stayed at two resorts. The first resort was Domaine de Segries closely located to the nearby the Ardeche Valley. Here we canoed down the Ardeche for three days, allowing the pupils to achieve their one star canoeing award. We then travelled to Club Mimosa, a PGL centre near the Mediterranean specialising in water sports. Throughout our stay here we had the opportunity to windsurf, snorkel, body board, as well as being offered the chance to complete our star sailing qualification with the RYA. During the evenings PGL staff entertained pupils with a range of games and activities, before accompanying them to the disco. I thoroughly recommend this trip to any schools thinking about taking pupils abroad; not only is it great fun, pupils walk away with two highly regarded outdoor qualifications.
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Often in my Intermediate2 RMPS class I hear pupils discussing BEBO – who has added a new post, what comical picture has been drawn on someone’s wall, what new poll has been added etc. Taking their passion for ICT and communication outside of school hours we’ve decided to start an Intermediate2 RMPS learning log.
At our weekly revision/homework club this topic became our priority. Pupils led the discussion and came up with aims and objectives about what the learning log should be like. So, without further ado, here is what they came up with:
• Inspiring others to take RMPS/challenging peoples’ perception of the subject
• Not too much text
• Well laid out – you know where everything is
• Personal – reports on trips, pupil work and photos
• Links to other useful sites
• Open up to wider than our class: finding out more about RMPS
As soon as the site goes live I’ll post the address.
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