Rethinking the curriculum: Knowledge organisers for teachers
The National Entitlement and the Curriculum
The proposed National Entitlement is not a curriculum however we believe it provides a curriculum framework. We present knowledge organisers (downloadable below) for teachers as a way of exploring this potential. Knowledge organisers are useful in providing a clear overview of information, which can then be categorised.
The Commission on RE (2018) sets out a new vision for Religion and Worldviews. As part of this vision it sets out a recommendation for a Statement of Entitlement which includes organising principles that may inform thinking behind practical planning and curriculum design for Religion and Worldviews.
You can find the complete report on this link, as well as the Executive Summary and a helpful a video to explain the work of the Commission on RE: https://www.commissiononre.org.uk/final-report-religion-and-worldviews-the-way-forward-a-national-plan-for-re/
Pupils are entitled to be taught, by well-qualified and resourced teachers, knowledge and understanding about:
a. what religion and worldviews are and how they are studied;
b. the impact of religion and worldviews on individuals, communities and societies;
c. the diversity of worldviews in society;
d. the concepts, language and ‘methodologies for knowing’ that help us organise and make sense of our knowledge and understanding of religion and worldviews;
e. the human quest for meaning, so that they are prepared for life in a diverse world and have space to recognise, reflect on and take responsibility for the development of their own personal worldview.
The Commission on RE (2018) report sets out in more details nine bullet points stating what pupils should be taught. These are:
1: About matters of central importance to the worldviews studied, how these can form coherent accounts for adherents, and how these matters are interpreted in different times, cultures and places
2: About key concepts including ‘religion’, ‘secularity’, ‘spirituality’ and ‘worldview’, and that worldviews are complex, diverse and plural
3: In the ways in which patterns of belief, expression and belonging may change across and within worldviews, locally, nationally and globally, both historically and I contemporary times
4: The ways in which worldviews develop in interaction with each other, have some shared beliefs and practices as well as differences, and that people may draw upon more than one tradition
5: The role of religious and non-religious ritual and practices, foundational texts, and of the arts, in both the formation and communication of experience, belief, values, identities and commitments
6: how worldviews may offer responses to fundamental questions of meaning and purpose raised by human experience, and the different roles that worldviews play in providing people with ways of making sense of their lives
7: the different roles played by worldviews in the lives of individuals and societies, including their influences on moral behavior and social norms
8: how worldviews have power and influence in societies and cultures, appealing to various sources of authority, including foundational texts
9: the different ways in which religion and worldviews can be understood, interpreted and studied, including through a wide range of academic disciplines and through direct encounter and discussion with individuals and communities who hold these worldviews.
What could the proposed National Entitlement look like in practice?
The proposed National Entitlement is in many ways an abstract statement. However, it provides some of the thinking that can sit behind a new Religion and Worldviews curriculum.
We suggest that the place to start is actually the final point of the National Entitlement, point (9). This describes the academic disciplines that might frame the more specific learning content. This can be imagined as a lens to look through at the learning content. It is bigger than the learning content and provides a backdrop or framing against which the learning content makes wider sense. The lens might be historical, theological or ethnographic, it might be philosophical, sociological or anthropological, and so on. You might be looking at a specific point of, for example, Islamic history, but will be thinking more widely as a historian and asking the sorts of questions a historian might ask.
Knowledge Organisers based on the proposed Statement of Entitlement
In an attempt to help understand and exemplify the National Entitlement we have created two knowledge organisers presenting Judaism and Humanism. We have considered what it might mean to explore these worldviews based on this new vision of religion and worldviews. We have also tried to allow these worldviews to be explored in themselves, without imposing categories that might distort understanding.
The knowledge organisers are NOT a complete curriculum or scheme of work. They present an overview of what content might be covered and questions asked when the proposed National Entitlement guides planning.
The learning content and approaches might be studied over many years, from Primary to Secondary, gradually building up a rich and complex understanding.
We provide notes to unpack some of the learning content, but not a complete guide. This is experimental. Teachers all over the country are engaged in exploring how to implement this new vision.
If this feels very different to your usual planning, it is. The National Entitlement is a game-changer, bringing RE, or religion and worldviews, into the 21st century as a broad-based, critical and reflective subject, driven by disciplinary thinking. While we know there is lots of hard work ahead, we are excited to explore the practical challenges and opportunities these crucial years will bring. We welcome comments and suggestions; we want to hear from you! Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org