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AIBU to be unhappy about this lesson.

(25 Posts)
cariadlet Sun 04-Oct-15 10:34:08

My daughter came home last week, bursting to show me a video that they'd watched in her R.E. lesson. It turned out to be this one.

For those of you who don't want to have to click on the link, it's an American TV programme about a young boy whose parents believe that he's the re-incarnation of a WW2 fighter pilot.

I don't have any problem with this video being shown in class. Even as a sceptical adult, I found it intriguing and I can imagine that it would stimulate a lot of discussion in class. However, I am concerned about the way that it was used. My daughter said that the teacher told them that the video had a lot of evidence for re-incarnation and that a few of her friends said later that they now believed in reincarnation on the basis of the video.

It only took me 5 minutes of googling to find this website.
It says that when the boy was a toddler his dad too him to the Kavanaugh Flight Museum in Dallas where he was fascinated by the World War II aircraft. It goes on to say that there was a Corsair aeroplane, and to suggest simple, rational explanations for other things shown in the first video.

I feel that the class should have been shown the first clip, discussed it, given the arguments from the 2nd link, discussed them and then be allowed to make up their own minds. I was going to email the teacher to express my concerns, but my partner says that's what I should expect from a church school (none of us are believers, but my daughter chose a CofE secondary) and there's no point making a fuss, and my daughter hates fuss and begged me not to say anything.

wowfudge Sun 04-Oct-15 10:39:21

Is it possible that the follow up lesson will be one de-bunking reincarnation? Although I agree that this should have been dealt with at the same time. Is it also possible that the kids just haven't listened to the lesson properly and got carried away with the idea of reincarnation?

Oysterbabe Sun 04-Oct-15 10:39:58

You should definitely just leave it. It's not a big deal.
Also, do CofE believe in reincarnation?!

Junosmum Sun 04-Oct-15 12:22:28

I wouldn't say anything but I'd be surprised if a balance wasn't provided (though possible).

Oysterbabe c if e don't believe in reincarnation however c of e schools, unless private, must teach the national curriculum which includes the beliefs of all the main religions.

BertrandRussell Sun 04-Oct-15 12:30:56

People will say "oh, just leave it" But there is an awful lot of crap taught in RE lessons in my experience and I really would not let this go.

My approach is to send a polite email asking for clarification- and for confirmation that the debunking video will also be shown. And if the reply isn't satisfactory to go to the Head of Department, and then the Headteacher. This stuff is important.

Nothing to do with it being a CofE school!

HugoBear Sun 04-Oct-15 12:36:51

Wot Bertrand said.

Reincarnation isn't Christian dogma, so I'd be worried that the teacher is into mixing and matching any old guff and might start telling kids Christ knows what.

Liomsa Sun 04-Oct-15 12:38:28

What Bertrand said. That kind of woolly-minded underthinking being foisted on schoolchildren (if that's what happened) by authority figures is important.

GlacindaTheTroll Sun 04-Oct-15 12:44:02

" My daughter said that the teacher told them that the video had a lot of evidence for re-incarnation and that a few of her friends said later that they now believed in reincarnation on the basis of the video."

Can your DD describe what the teacher said was 'evidence' for reincarnation?

For although it is part of a number of beliefs (both atheist and theist) I wasn't aware that there was any actual evidence. Though events can be perfectly described in ways that fit Buddhist, Hindu, Spiritualist, at any other version, which means that the belief has internal consistency and might be true. But there is no known 'test' for any god, gods, afterlife or extinguishment.

catfordbetty Sun 04-Oct-15 12:45:00

However, I am concerned about the way that it was used. My daughter said that the teacher told them ...

Before complaining, find out from the teacher what the teacher said rather than what your daughter said the teacher said. IME, there is often an enormous gap between the two. As a teacher, I got heartily pissed off with angry missives that ascribed to me words and attitudes that were not my own.

namechanger0101 Sun 04-Oct-15 12:50:31

Oh my god. For the first time in MN history, I believe I know the subject of the post! My friend is an RE teacher, and told me about showing this video in a lesson this week. I can't speak for her and don't want to show her this thread as I fear it would upset her, but I can say that she definitely did not show it as 'evidence' as reincarnation. She said that she discussed it with the class and that many did seem convinced by it but that she tried to ask questions to induce them to be more sceptical and questioning, without actually telling them what to think. She teaches in an area where there are a lot of very religious students and is always careful to teach in a way that does not tell the students what to think but allows them to present their own religious viewpoints.

I think that if you have concerns you should address it with her directly. I am sure that she would be more than happy to discuss her rationale for showing this video. She is an exceptionally committed and talented teacher who thinks very carefully about how to approach her classes. I might also add that she spends an awful lot of time inviting speakers from a range of professions and academic areas to come and speak to the girls at the school specifically in order to give them perspectives outside those they may have encountered. She co-founded an Oxbridge support group which recently got the school's very first student into Cambridge. I know this person well, and believe that your daughter is very, VERY lucky to have her as a teacher.

namechanger0101 Sun 04-Oct-15 12:53:07

Also check the school's results - I believe the RS GCSE results are the school's best.

cariadlet Sun 04-Oct-15 13:01:33

Thanks for the comments.

namechanger0101 - it probably wasn't your friend, as my dd said it was a supply teacher (although she said it was her regular teacher's lesson). Your friend sounds great - similar to my dd's last teacher, who - unfortunately - has left the school to move to a different area. I've always believed that critical thinking is an important part of R.E. but without sitting in on a lesson, it's hard to know whether those skills are being taught.

catfordbetty: I'm also a teacher (primary), and know that you don't take a child's word as gospel. I'm quite prepared to believer that my daughter might have missed some of the teacher's comments and might not have told me all the details of the lesson. And the email that I was going to send (until dd begged me not to) would have been similar in tone to my OP - I'd have asked for clarification rather than asserting what had happened, and wouldn't have written an angry email.

GlacindaTheTroll I know from dd's homework that they are currently learning about Hinduism, which is probably the reason for watching the video and for discussing reincarnation. According to dd, the "evidence" the teacher referred to was basically just the video. For anybody who hasn't watched the video, it is full of strange co-incidence, but nothing that doesn't have a simpler, rational explanation.

StarkyTheDirewolf Sun 04-Oct-15 13:13:57

I'd imagine it was part of the topic about other religions, Buddhism Hinduism possibly? Depending on which year group she's in and what module they're focusing on it could be being used as part of a modern religions section or as a teaching tool to encourage debate withing the lesson 'does life after death exist?' 'Ideas about reincarnation -discuss'. The main thing to remember for GCSE RE was 'give reasons for your answer showing you have thought about more than one point of view'. So lots of videos, pieces of text were used to show reasons for and against in order to be able to give a rounded example when completing the task.

If you're concerned, engage with the teacher for clarification.

namechanger0101 Sun 04-Oct-15 13:27:10

Hm, well perhaps it is not my friend. (I guess it's possible she is the regular teacher - is it a girls school?) But I'm sure any teacher would be happy to allay your concerns. I would probably be a bit more neutral in your phrasing though - 'where did the video fit in?' not 'why was it presented as evidence?' Though the regular teacher wasn't taking the class she can't really be held accountable for what the supply teacher said.

cariadlet Sun 04-Oct-15 13:33:24

namechanger0101 - it's a mixed school, not a girl's one so definitely not your friend.

I've asked dd if the supply teacher asked the children whether they could think of any other explanations for what the little boy was saying and doing, other than reincarnation, and she's adamant that he didn't.

cariadlet Sun 04-Oct-15 13:35:54

StarkyTheDirewolf - dd is Year 8.

theycallmemellojello Sun 04-Oct-15 13:39:17

Personally I don't think that the fact that they didn't explore alternative explanations means that it was necessarily a biased lesson. There are lots of way to discuss religious material that don't involve deciding whether it is true or false. But yes, the word 'evidence' in an RE lesson is a red flag!

reallybadidea Sun 04-Oct-15 13:43:30

My year 8 DD was shown this video this week (mixed, non C of E school, so definitely different from both the other schools discussed in this thread). I wonder whether it is being recommended in some year 8 teaching resources or similar?

I wasn't madly happy about it for all the reasons you gave.

StarkyTheDirewolf Sun 04-Oct-15 13:46:12

Sounds to me like it was part of the religion section, they will study Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Christianity if I remember correctly. And then move on to doing the ethics part of the syllabus next year. But honestly, if you're concerned, email and ask for clarification. I wouldn't worry too much though.

PHANTOMnamechanger Sun 04-Oct-15 14:03:25

I may be in a minority but I'd be happy with that lesson being done that way IF the following lesson provided the other 'evidence' ie the alternative rational explanations for the 'coincidences' that the parents believe point to reincarnation.

Surely that would actually be a good way of developing the DCs critical thinking by first letting them be 'convinced' of one thing, before showing them another way of looking at things that may change their mind. It teaches them to be questioning, and not take things as fact. It shows how 'facts' can be twisted to suit one's arguement or agenda.

manicinsomniac Sun 04-Oct-15 14:04:05

a C of E school has no reason to be promoting reincarnation as fact at all. It doesn't fit into the Christian view of the afterlife in any way.

Maybe your daughter should show the teacher the link to the other video and ask if they can discuss the evidence both ways. It sounds like it would be really interesting.

BertrandRussell Sun 04-Oct-15 16:41:42

"There are lots of way to discuss religious material that don't involve deciding whether it is true or false"

The point is that this particular video has been completely debunked. It's utter bollocks. A fraud.

Nohopeformethen Sun 04-Oct-15 18:22:07

I would hope there would be no lesson "debunking reincarnation" given how many people around the world believe in it. That would lead to a whole new collection of parental complaints! However, one experience as portrayed in the video could be debunked away, that is quite different.

Mmmmcake123 Sun 04-Oct-15 19:09:59

I think the fact that it was a supply teacher could have a bearing. The children were probably supposed to thinking about the clip critically and analysing the validity of the evidence. The supply teacher not knowing the student group has inaccurately pitched his or her teaching. Occasional supply is not the end of the world but if it becomes regular discuss with head of RE as it will affect grades.

HugoBear Wed 07-Oct-15 19:42:22

OP - are we going to get a conclusion to wtf was going on??

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