Strategies for Seeing Anew #3

…towards curiosity about life's big questions

An example from a Primary classroom
An example from a Secondary classroom

What does this mean?

Apathy is a lack of interest, involvement and curiosity about the world. With such an attitude it is difficult to ask big questions, feel the needs of others, or be moved to do anything about them. Apathy is related to laziness, it is sleepwalking through life, not being fully alive. Jesus said he came to bring fullness of life (John 10:10).
Apathy is the acceptance of the unacceptable. John Stott
A different world cannot be built by indifferent people. Peter Marshall
Curiosity and questioning are not the opposite of faith, they can grow out of faith and feed faith by setting us off in search of answers. Big questions can be asked not only from outside, but also from within a relationship with God. Curiosity is not necessarily idle speculation and questioning does not have to be doubt; they are part of being alive to God’s world. In the Bible people ask the big questions such as: ‘Why do the wicked prosper?’ (Job 21:7).
 
Another barrier to genuine questioning is reductionism. This is a view of the world that expects all questions in the end to boil down to physics or biology and uses those branches of knowledge to explain away questions about meaning, purpose, beauty, hope, and justice. Faith can actually open up the mind to engage with the richness of creation and give the full range of questions about life their due.
The glory of God is a man fully alive. Irenaeus
This section is about moving towards curiosity about life's big questions. You may wish to think about where people move from; is it a move from a general lack of curiosity, or from a feeling that asking questions is not appropriate in matters of faith and values?

What does this mean in school?

Curiosity can be encouraged in any subject:
  • Pose the big questions, encourage pupils to ask them. For example: ‘How did the pattern get into numbers?’
  • Create time and space for the questions. For example, create space for student responses on displays.
  • Use big questions to guide your planning and frame your lessons. Objectives can be written in the form of questions.
  • Reward wrestling with hard questions in students' work, not just right answers or answers arrived at too quickly.
  • Discuss with students the limits of different disciplines in terms of the kinds of questions they can effectively answer.
  • Use believers in different subjects drawing on their expertise. Students can prepare questions for them. Use the email ‘ask a believer’ facilities that can be found online if inviting people in is not practical http://pof.reonline.org.uk/emailproject/index.php.
Think of a time when a big question was asked in a subject other than RE. Did you feel able to follow it up? Or do students show apathy and need stimulating to ask such questions? Identify a lesson/unit which has potential for big questions, particularly relating to faith and values. How could you teach this in a way that stimulates students to engage with it? You might display the objective, in the form of a big question, at the beginning of a science lesson and structure the lesson round it and come back to it at the end.
 
More ways of seeing anew
Next way of seeing anew
1Jesus said: I tell you for certain that only thieves and robbers climb over the fence instead of going in through the gate to the sheep pen. 2But the gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd, and he goes in through it. The sheep know their shepherd's voice. He calls each of them by name and leads them out. 4When he has led out all his sheep, he walks in front of them, and they follow, because they know his voice. 5The sheep will not follow strangers. They don't recognize a stranger's voice, and they run away. 6Jesus told the people this story. But they did not understand what he was talking about. Jesus is the good shepherd 7Jesus said: I tell you for certain that I am the gate for the sheep. 8Everyone who came before me was a thief or a robber, and the sheep did not listen to any of them. 9I am the gate. All who come in through me will be saved. Through me they will come and go and find pasture. 10A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it fully. 11I am the good shepherd, and the good shepherd gives up his life for his sheep. 12Hired workers are not like the shepherd. They don't own the sheep, and when they see a wolf coming, they run off and leave the sheep. Then the wolf attacks and scatters the flock. 13Hired workers run away because they don't care about the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, and they know me. 15Just as the Father knows me, I know the Father, and I give up my life for my sheep. 16I have other sheep that are not in this sheep pen. I must bring them together too, when they hear my voice. Then there will be one flock of sheep and one shepherd. 17The Father loves me, because I give up my life, so that I may receive it back again. 18No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! I have the power to give it up and the power to receive it back again, just as my Father commanded me to do. 19The people took sides because of what Jesus had told them. 20Many of them said, He has a demon in him! He is mad! Why listen to him? 21But others said, How could anyone with a demon in him say these things? No one like that could give sight to a blind person! Jesus is rejected 22That winter, Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Temple Festival. 23One day he was walking in that part of the temple known as Solomon's Porch, 24and the people gathered all around him. They said, How long are you going to keep us guessing? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly! 25Jesus answered: I have told you, and you refused to believe me. The things I do by my Father's authority show who I am. 26But since you are not my sheep, you don't believe me. 27My sheep know my voice, and I know them. They follow me, 28and I give them eternal life, so that they will never be lost. No one can snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father gave them to me, and he is greater than all others. No one can snatch them from his hands, 30and I am one with the Father. 31Once again the Jewish leaders picked up stones in order to kill Jesus. 32But he said, I have shown you many good things that my Father sent me to do. Which one are you going to stone me for? 33They answered, We are not stoning you because of any good thing you did. We are stoning you because you did a terrible thing. You are just a man, and here you are claiming to be God! 34Jesus replied: In your Scriptures doesn't God say, You are gods? 35You can't argue with the Scriptures, and God spoke to those people and called them gods. 36So why do you accuse me of a terrible sin for saying that I am the Son of God? After all, it is the Father who prepared me for this work. He is also the one who sent me into the world. 37If I don't do as my Father does, you should not believe me. 38But if I do what my Father does, you should believe because of that, even if you don't have faith in me. Then you will know for certain that the Father is one with me, and I am one with the Father. 39Again they wanted to arrest Jesus. But he escaped 40and crossed the Jordan to the place where John had earlier been baptizing. While Jesus was there, 41many people came to him. They were saying, John didn't perform any miracles, but everything he said about Jesus is true. 42A lot of those people also put their faith in Jesus. The death of Lazarus
1Job said: 2If you want to offer comfort, then listen to me. 3And when I have finished, you can start your insults all over again. 4My complaint is against God; that's why I am impatient. 5Just looking at me is enough to make you sick, 6and the very thought of myself fills me with disgust. 7Why do evil people live so long and gain such power? 8Why are they allowed to see their children grow up? 9They have no worries at home, and God never punishes them. 10Their cattle have lots of calves without ever losing one; 11their children play and dance safely by themselves. 12These people sing and celebrate to the sound of tambourines, small harps, and flutes, 13and they are successful, without a worry, until the day they die. Leave us alone! 14Those who are evil say to God All-Powerful, Leave us alone! Don't bother us with your teachings. 15What do we gain from praying and worshipping you? 16We succeeded all on our own. And so, I keep away from them and their evil schemes. 17How often does God become angry and send disaster and darkness to punish sinners? 18How often does he strike them like a storm that scatters straw? 19You say, God will punish those sinners' children in place of those sinners. But I say, Let him punish those sinners themselves until they really feel it. 20Let God All-Powerful force them to drink their own destruction from the cup of his anger. 21Because after they are dead, they won't care what happens to their children. Who can tell God what to do? 22Who can tell God what to do? He judges powerful rulers. 23Some of us die prosperous, enjoying good health, 25while others die in poverty, having known only pain. 26But we all end up dead, beneath a blanket of worms. 27My friends, I know that you are plotting against me. 28You ask, Where is the home of that important person who does so much evil? 29Everyone, near and far, agrees 30that those who do wrong never suffer disaster, when God becomes angry. 31No one points out their sin or punishes them. 32Then at their funerals, they are highly praised; 33the earth welcomes them home, while crowds mourn. 34But empty, meaningless words are the comfort you offer me. What use are we humans to God?