SOF and Education
Whilst the SOF Network has no creed, and welcomes people from all religions and humanist traditions, it does have an educational purpose. It is a registered charity whose objects are “to advance the education of the public in religious studies with particular reference to religious faith seen as a human creation”.
Solarity: This online resource for teachers and leaders of out-of-school-hours clubs on religion and philosophy was launched in 2018.
It consists of 42 ‘sessions’ for primary age children and 40 sessions for secondary age students.
The materials are designed to offer stimulation for exploration and discussion with no expectations for written assignments and an emphasis on fun and serious topics that appeal to the children today.
Each session builds on a theme that has been featured in Sea of Faith Network conferences and discussion groups and makes use of contemporary films, music, art and so on, to help children explore what really matters in the world today.
The Network sets out to:
- explore the idea of religion and religious faith as human creations.
[This leaves open the question of whether or not there is any divine or supernatural power behind its presence in the world. Members take a variety of views on this question!]
- promote the validity of creative, human-centred religion.
[This implies a focus on the creative ways in which human beings have expressed their understandings of the mysteries, joys and sorrows of life, especially through their established worldviews. SOF members are creative! They often delight in the appreciation of the creative arts and sciences of a plurality of worldviews and make their own contributions to the treasury of human expression.]
- affirm the continuing importance of religious thought and practice as expressions of awe and wonder and celebrations of spiritual and social values.
[This means that the Network will delve into the ritual patterns and ethical expectations of different worldviews. Though the Network is not affiliated to any particular religion, worldview or campaigning group, many members do so as individuals, offering their own critical views, and taking personal action as they may see fit.]
These purposes have been put into action by the Network in several ways; through its quarterly flagship publication, Sofia, through its support for local groups, through its annual conference, through its regional and online conversation events and through its communications with members via the Portholes and SOF News bulletins.
In addition, there are two main arms of educational outreach: the Network’s own online ‘Religion and Philosophy Club’ materials [ https://www.solarity.org.uk ] and as a key partner of the ‘Big Ideas for Religious Education’ approach to curriculum development in school RE [ https://bigideasforre.org ].
Big Ideas for RE: This online resource for developers of RE syllabuses was launched in 2022.
It is based on the educational philosophy of such writers as Jay McTighe, Grant Wiggins, Lorin Anderson and David Krathwohl. The ‘Big Ideas’ approach is already used across the curriculum in Western Australia and has been crucial in the development of Science Education in England.
Designed to meet the needs of ALL young people, including the massively growing number of those professing ‘no-religion’, the website provides a complete guide for those developing the RE curriculum for schools.
Also now included are more than 25 exemplar ‘units of learning’, providing schools with complete lessons and resources covering ages 5 – 18. With new material being added all the time, it is hoped that this resource will be of immense help to all those reviewing their RE curriculum in the years to come.