It is the start of term and so I wanted to focus on a word which is essentially to do with learning and knowledge. When students enter the Religious Studies classroom they often have preconceived ideas about a topic – they may already have made their mind up that God does not exist or that Jesus is the saviour of the world. As a teacher it is my job to challenge these preconceptions and get pupils thinking critically. By “critically” I do not mean purely negatively or pessimistically; looking to shoot down the views of others and pick holes for the sake of it. By “critically” I mean a mindset of questioning the views of others, testing ideas out and asking further and deeper questions.
In this sense I want my students to try and be agnostic – which literally means without knowledge. Agnostic in the sense that they may not yet know the ultimate truth and concede that they may never know the truth, but that does not mean that they give up seeking. They are active and critical in lessons and seek the truth for themselves. Crucially they don’t just accept the taboos and norms of society at face value and find out for themselves. So if you are starting at a new school this week (like me!) or just beginning a new academic year - try to be agnostic and seek for yourself.