Religious Studies & Theology, Philosophy & Ethics (TPE)
Teaching you how to think, not what to think
Religious Studies and TPE are taught by Mrs R Chillcott (Head of Department) and Rev T Ling, who is also Houseparent of Farm House. As a department we seek to equip pupils with the skills needed to face the modern world, whilst at the same time allowing them space to develop their own faith position. Through our lessons and extra curricular activities we prepare them to take their place in the world as confident individuals, clear of their own views, respectful of the views of others, able to know when they don’t know and to be comfortable with this, and so able to form healthy and enriching relationships with a wide variety of people in a range of different contexts.
Year 9 - Religious Studies
The aim that underlies all that we do in the Religious Studies Department is to teach pupils how to think, not what to think. This begins in Year 9 where pupils are introduced to a range of philosophical and ethical questions and to the ways in which they both affect our understanding of reality and are, in turn, affected by it. This understanding of reality, the lense through which we view the world and our place in it, is known as a ‘world view’. We want all of our pupils to realise that the each have a world view so that they can hold it consciously and be open to alter it as they go through life making new discoveries all the time.
Of course, the pupils have been on this journey ever since they were old enough to think for themselves but at Monkton Senior School our part of the journey begins in Year 9. During Michaelmas Term we look at various ethical theories and evaluate their utility in helping us make good decisions. The ethical theories we evaluate are Utilitarianism, Situation Ethics and Natural Law. Each are applied to a range of moral issues including medical ethics and the ethics of war. We also explore how faith in Jesus and the guiding principles of the Bible help Christians in their decision making process. During the Lent Term our focus is on Christian philosophy and we ask what is, perhaps, one of the ultimate questions of life: why does an all-loving and omnipotent God allow suffering to happen? As part of our investigation we investigate and evaluate the theodicies of Irenaeus and John Hick, as well as the story of Job. The Summer Term of Year 9 provides pupils with an opportunity to study the person of Jesus, both as first century Palestinian Jew and Christ, alongside other Christological titles. Jesus’ parables and miracles are studied in the context of the Kingdom of God, and we question whether Jesus really was who Christians hold him to be, or a failed eschatological prophet. We conclude the year by looking at how people experience God in the modern world and investigating the belief that Jesus’ atoning death makes conversion and relationship with God possible.
Throughout the Year 9 course we help our pupils to begin to ask questions, listen to one another’s answers, be able to change their minds and in this way we prepare the ground for the exploration of the specific religious, philosophical and ethical questions that form the basis of both the GCSE and A Level syllabi.
GCSE - Years 10 and 11 - Theology, Philosophy & Ethics
We aim to equip our GCSE pupils to take their place in the world as confident individuals, clear of their own views, respectful of the views of others, able to know when they don’t know and to be comfortable with this, and so able to form healthy and enriching relationships with a wide variety of people in a range of different contexts. To this end we teach two of the world’s largest religions: Christianity and Islam. Pupils investigate the beliefs and teachings of these religions, referring to various sources of wisdom and authority in order to seek evidence for these beliefs and teachings. Pupils are made aware of the differences within a religion and are encouraged to seek reasons for, and to evaluate, these inter-faith differences. Religious practices, and divergence within these, are also studies for each religion.
The second part of the GCSE syllabus sees pupils embark on a programme of study called Religion, Philosophy & Ethics in the modern world (from a Christian perspective). We tackle a broad range of contemporary moral issues, including investigating what we mean by ‘ethical modes of relationships’, gender issues and Christian understandings of equality. We also delve into Christian philosophy through study of arguments for and against the existence of God and the nature of reality. This paves the way for study of the ethical issues of war and peace in both an historic and modern context. Pupils also explore a number of challenges for religion, including secularism as a mode of thought and being.
A level - Years 12 and 13 - Theology, Philosophy & Ethics
In the A Level TPE course we aim to build on the skills of creative and analytical thinking, constructing an argument and justifying a conclusion that students have been developing since Year 9. These skills are applied to a wide range of philosophical and ethical issues.
In Philosophy students consider the foundations of modern philosophy in the writings of Plato and Aristotle, classical proofs for the existence of God, religious experience as a basis for belief, the problem of evil, the nature of God and whether or not it is possible to speak meaningfully about God.
In the Ethics course students explore some of the most influential approaches to morality: Utilitarianism, Natural Law, Kantian Ethics and Situation Ethics and apply these approaches to the contemporary ethical dilemmas of euthanasia and behaviour in business. In Year 13 the students consider some more approaches to moral decision making, including the place of the conscience, reflect on the nature of ethical language and explore the relationship between free will and determinism.
In the Development in Christian Thought paper students explore a wide variety of theological issues, including the nature of God, the person of Christ, human nature and the Fall, as well as aspects of Liberation and Feminist theologies.
In all of these areas of study students are encouraged to engage creatively with the work of the thinkers on the syllabus and, as well as mastering the detail, to think independently in the light of it. To this end classroom debate is a regular feature of our teaching and learning, with students expected to carry out research outside the classroom in preparation for debate and discussion.
The approach to TPE adopted at Monkton provides the ideal preparation for the style of learning that students will meet at university. In addition to this, it plays its part in enabling our students to become confident young men and women, able to respect the views of others, to disagree well, to be open to amend their own views and to stand up for their beliefs without the need for conformity. Our aim in all that we do in TPE is to prepare our students for university and for life.
To arrange a visit, or for any other enquiries regarding admissions at the Senior School, please contact our Registrar, Mrs Carole Heritage on 01225 721 133
To arrange a visit, or any other enquiries at the Pre-Prep and Prep please contact Nicky Davis on 01225 831 238.
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