Mary’s Blog

I was pleased to see a new blog coming into the world last week. It is the work of my colleague Mary Earl with whom I often discuss the state of our respective subjects, Religious Education and Music Education. Most of our discussions are about the process of re-thinking our subjects, finding better ways of framing them, clarifying purposes, defining pedagogies.

Mary’s subject is now commonly called Religion, Philosophy and Ethics (RPE). And while music teachers have been wondering about their reformed GCSE, RPE teachers have been concerned about changes to their GCSE with its renewed focus on religions rather than philosophical and ethical underpinnings. You see many secondary school RE/RPE teachers hold degrees in philosophy.

Mary’s debut blog did what you may know is dear to my heart. It described an actual lesson. See

What a relief from the general blogospehere where we read anything from wild opinion to carefully crafted theoretical pieces (I’m all for these if they are well referenced).

Mary’s lesson account exemplified a number of things and chiefly the way in which a visual image can form the basis of inquiry learning. Mary writes:

‘What a joy the lesson proved to be! Within a minute the request to ask questions of the image led to a question about infinity (the symbol linking the woman/birth and the old man/death).’

How good to read about this kind of detail.

Music teachers who make use of an inquiry approach will find Mary’s account interesting. It shows the character of dialogic practice and the way a classroom becomes a community of inquirers.

The visual image used to stimulate created a flurry of responses drawing in the lived experience of the class, confirming who they were and what knowledge they came to class with.

RPE is not Music. In music dialogue is first in the medium of music but there are times to think through talking in the space that is created by a dialogic approach.

In the expanding educational twitter-blogosphere revealing the detail of classroom interactions is still a rarity. And this is understandable. A well-described lesson needs an observer and preferably one who is detached from the action. It also needs the description to embody some level of analysis so that it is more than simply revelation. I think Mary does that without much fuss.

In response to the Inspire Project LJ asks:

How will you draw the line between simply “revealing” and “framing” I wonder….

Mary provides sufficient framing I think.

I am pleased to have discovered the work of Debra Kidd who here a series of lessons in a way that provide deep insights into a particular approach. And there is a nine minute video to enrich.

Music teachers will at least connect with the blog’s title.





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