David and Guliefe

Following on from my short piece about the Ofsted Report, some thoughts on how many young people learn Scripture in their RE lessons.

Many British people have studied RE but it is often unacknowledged how materialism and Hollywood mythology infuse this educational experience.

Here we draw on the research of Terence Copley's Biblos Project at Exeter University. His team have been looking at what children learn about the meaning of Bible stories in schools in England. Here are some examples:

  • Year 9 pupil on David and 'Guliefe' (sic, Goliath): "No matter how small u are, belive in yourself."
  • Year 12 pupil on the birth of Christ: "that the birth of a newborn baby is the best gift of all."
  • Year 9 pupil on the betrayal of Christ: "You can't trust anyone these days."
  • Year 9 pupil on the feeding of the 5000: "Don't take things for granted and share things."

The researchers noted that God and Christian faith were often consciously or unconsciously edited out by teachers, so that pupils uncritically absorbed a secularised version of the biblical text.

This research and its findings confirms so many of my experiences of teaching RE. The David and Goliath story is understood in a completely secular way – the little guy can do amazing things if he believes in himself!

Hollywood – We admire your wisdom and insight!

Your power to evangelise young minds is unique!

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