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Following a discussion with the teachers of these two classes, it was agreed that it would be beneficial for the students and I for the subject of the lesson to be away from the syllabus. This decision was made on the basis that then the same lesson could be delivered to both classes, alongside the fact that it was the first lesson after their internal exams for the year 10 students and only the second lesson back after study leave and exams for the A-Level students, so a deviation from the syllabus actually came as a welcome break.

As such, the hour that I had with the students was divided into two sections. The first fifteen to twenty minutes was dedicated to the outlining and promotion of Theology and Religious Studies at degree level, with special reference to the University of Chester’s TRS department. Whilst the remainder of the lesson was devoted to my lesson on my chosen subject, The Dead Sea Scrolls and specifically the Copper Scroll.  I chose this subject not only because it is a particular interest of mine, but due to the understanding that neither the year 10s or 12s would have any prior knowledge of the subject, thus, creating a clean slate to start with for both classes.

As I have mentioned, I began the lesson by outlining and promoting degree level TRS and the University of Chester. Numerous points were noted during this section. Perhaps most importantly was the reference to the growing importance of religious literacy in the contemporary climate. Although the section on TRS at degree level and university more generally was less relevant to the year 10 students, both classes were fascinated by and responded to my reference to the greater freedom given at degree level to pursue your areas of interest. I showed the students a couple of examples of essay titles I had tackled over the last few years, such as ‘is football a religion?’, ‘Interpreting Apocalyptic Theology: A critical analysis of Charles Manson’s interpretation of Revelation and Apocalyptic Theology’ and ‘Does Christian Ethics need a new understanding on the relationship between sex and marriage?’. I allowed students a few minutes to discuss how they would approach such questions, before explaining how I approached them. I used this short activity to show how TRS at university allows students to pursue their interests and that TRS isn’t a dull and old subject, but a contemporary and exciting one.

Having been given the freedom to teach a subject of my choice, rather than something on the GCSE or A-Level syllabus, I thought it was a good opportunity to give students a taster of what a university lecture is like. As such, I delivered my lesson in a mini lecture and seminar style. Students were given copies of the PowerPoint slide with space for notes, as well as a condensed mind-map of the content created on Inspiration software.

 

I began the lecture by giving a general introduction to The Dead Sea Scrolls and explaining why this particular archaeological find was so significant to both Judaism and Christianity. From this I moved on to look more specifically at the Copper Scroll and presenting the students with the most substantial theories on whose treasure it is that is described in the Copper Scroll and what happened to the treasure.

Following this, we entered into a seminar-style discussion in which students were able to voice their opinions to what they thought happened to the treasure. Finally, I had students move around the room into three opposing camps based on their personal opinions on what happened to the treasure, I then gave the groups a few minutes to construct the best argument they have to support their view and to present to their opposition.

Students engagement with the subject was fantastic, all students found the subject fascinating and all were eager to present their theories about what they thought happened to the treasure. Both teachers that observed my lessons noted how well they thought it went and one of the teachers offered to give a written evaluation/reflection. I must take this opportunity to thank the TRS department at Chester and note how fantastic the Religious Education module has been for my peers and I and what a fantastic opportunity and experience it has given us.