A superior paper for religious education gives students an agreement to consider with a ‘fair’ and ‘contemporary’ touch

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The top paper for religious education ranged in subject matter, from mystics to just war theory and Darwin, giving students plenty to consider with a “fair” and “contemporary” flair.

Throughout the test, students had to adapt their knowledge to the questions asked.

Some of the content and formatting, however, may have surprised students.

From Darwin to just war theory and then to the influence of pre-Christian practices, this was certainly far from a boring article.

Paul McAndrew, Professor of Religious Education at the Institute of Education, Dublin, said: ‘Overall it was a fair item with plenty of choice and a contemporary twist.

“Many of the questions asked students to discuss what the topic in question would mean to people today. This is a great way to assess a student’s critical thinking skills.

Section A of the exam asked students to reflect on the search for meaning and values.

There was a surprise in this section, where myths, a subject of last year’s article, came up again.

The question was simple, however, according to Mr McAndrew, and “shouldn’t have bothered many students”.

However, he felt that some of the questions “were a bit wordy, but they focused on the curriculum learning outcomes of the course, so they were fair”.

Section B focused on Christianity and Mr McAndrew felt that ‘well-prepared students would have excelled in this section’.

This section focused on the words and actions of Jesus. The questions were “fair but tough, as they should be,” McAndrew said.

Section C examined the religions of the world. The questions here were curriculum-focused, but “challenged students to match what they learned in class to the questions being asked,” he said.

“Students would have found it difficult but simple,” he added.

Section D looked at moral decision-making, looking at the Decalogue and the Covenant, two topics not previously covered in this section.

The questions were examined in relation to the ethics of Jesus.

It was an “interesting and excellent question,” McAndrew said.

In the Unit 3 section of the document, there had been a slight change in format. Although the choice was still offered, some questions could have been “caught off guard” due to the way the questions were grouped, the teacher felt.

“However, careful consideration of each question would have led students to realize that each question was simple and syllabus-based, with the usual need to tailor their knowledge to the question being asked and to focus their answer on what it means to people today,” he added.

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