I think there is a fruitful dialogue to be had with museum educationists, whose experience in using art and artefacts to promote enquiry-based learning extends well beyond the gallery and can be beneficial in the secondary classroom. Using art can promote better well-being, promote critical thinking skills as students must make inferences and justify their interpretation based on close observation of the artwork, and can engage different types of learners (as I explained in a CPD entitled 'Art Across the Curriculum' earlier in the year).
In this post, I want to show how some multi-modal activities can be adapted for Religious Education.
Viewfinder: Nature of Jesus Christ
Materials needed: Images of Jesus Christ e.g. Michelangelo’s Jesus Christ at the Last Judgement, Michelangelo’s Pieta, Dali's Crucifixion of Christ, Grunewald's Crucifixion.
Aim: The open-ended activity will help students to develop their observation skills and come up with their own interpretation of how artists have interpreted the nature of the Jesus Christ and begin to think about how humanity and divinity can sit together.
Activity: Ask students to come up with a list of qualities and adjectives that describe what it means to be human and what it means to be divine. Hand out contrasting images showing Jesus Christ. Ask students to use the viewfinder to draw one part of one of the image that demonstrates Jesus Christ’s divinity and ask them to justify. Repeat the activity and ask students to draw one part of the image that shows Jesus Christ’s humanity and again justify.
Postcard Home: Biblical Narratives
Materials needed: Large index card, coloured pencils, regular pencil, painting of biblical narrative (e.g. Pentecost).
Aim: Students think about the narrative within the context of their own experiences.
Activity: Show students a painting of a narrative that you are studying. Get the students to think about the place carefully using open-ended questions such as: ‘Think about what you notice’. ‘Especially place’. ‘What's familiar?’ ‘What's unusual?’ ‘Imagine yourself in this place.’ Ask students to write a note to a friend describing the surrounding. (2 min.) ‘Be as descriptive as possible’. ‘What do you hear?’ ‘What do you smell?’ ‘What do you see around you?’ ‘Where will you go next?’ Then on the other side of the postcard ask students to draw one part of the painting in detail (2 min.)
Everyone’s a Critic: Religious Themes
Materials needed: assorted postcards, gamecard
Aim: In this game, students develop higher-order thinking skills. Students in the 'artist' role must interpret the artwork and justify how it fits the theme while 'critics' must evaluate the arguments in front of them. This game can help students to synoptically find connections between topics, revise key words or dig deeper into the topic.
Activity: Divide the class into groups of six and on each table place a selection of postcards, a mixture of religious and secular art. Print out a selection of theme words: e.g. redemption, salvation, resurrection etc. (modifying the word list as necessary for ability and topic). One person on the table will be a critic who gets to select the theme. The rest of the table will be the artists. Each artist must choose one postcard and argue why that artwork best exemplifies the chosen theme. The critic chooses a winner.