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Shia // Sunni

Tue, 20/09/2016 - 12:34
A wise man once said ‘In reality, there are as many religions as there are individuals’. These were the words of Mahatma Gandhi, who stood for peace amongst a world of conflict. It is a lesson, we can still learn from today, particularly when it comes to the dynamics of faith. Within all worldwide religions we can find different sectors, standing out for their different beliefs on tradition and origin. In Islam, it can be generally split into two sectors known as Shia and Sunni Islam. These sectors differ in many ways. For a teacher in a classroom environment, it can be challenging to not only introduce these differences to students, but to equally emphasise the deeply rooted history between the two sects. The tensions underlining these differences have unfortunately caused a mass amount of violence throughout history – but there are many who seek common ground, mutual respect and compassion between the two groups. The importance of tolerance for opinions different to our own is at the heart of peace. It is when we listen to each other, that we discover that we may have more in common than we might think. Not just in religion, but in all realms of life.  

In our new film Shia // Sunni at TrueTube, we have attempted to capture the importance of these humanitarian principles within the newly formed relationship between our two dynamic characters. In a Romeo and Juliet style drama, Fatimah (a Shia Muslim) and Abubakr (a Sunni Muslim) discover a surprising connection they didn’t think would be possible. Fatmiah goes to help Abubakr when she notices him suffering from an asthma attack. This kind gesture grows into polite conversation which then develops into a lighthearted, spirited argument covering the main differences and misconceptions surrounding the two sects. With both characters defending themselves, they slowly discover that their passion for their faith and equally matching human spirit, unites them much more than it divides them. This story demonstrates the power of kindness and strong communication when it comes to all forms of conflict. If you’re looking for a warm-hearted teaching resource to introduce the complicated dynamics between Shia and Sunni Islam, then this film is definitely worth a try. The accompanying teacher’s notes will also offer key questions and lesson activities to make this topic come to life in your classroom. Let us know how it goes. 

REFUGEE

Tue, 07/06/2016 - 12:02
Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity to be kind. There is a chance to put ourselves in another’s shoes and try to understand what they may be experiencing. We may not always get to the core of what’s happening in their world but it is important to try.

When we hear about devastating world events on the news, it is easy for us to read the headlines, be appalled for a few moments and then switch back to our own world. We all do it. However, even though self-indulgence is a natural human trait, so is empathy. Great suffering should not and does not go unnoticed and many people around the world are trying to help.

The refugee crisis is the perfect example of such a case. With such a dynamic, complex issue, it is easy for us to disconnect from the situation. It is easy to forget that countless children have lost their parents on  the desperate journey to a better life and are now caught up in the world of sex trafficking. It is easy to forget how many parents and grandparents have sacrificed their own lives in order to give their families a chance to live in a better world. We must not disengage with what’s happening to humanity at the present time because we are part of it. Our team at TrueTube have attempted to translate the importance of empathy in our short drama on the refugee crisis. It explores the hypothetical concept of our country becoming a warzone and a family having to leave their home in search of refuge. It takes us on an inverted journey and reveals how even the smallest acts of kindness can make a big difference.

Thisfilm offers a powerful way to focus on the refugee crisis with your students, by making them think how they might feel if it happened to them. It will provide you with a platform to discuss the topic openly as a class. Teacher’s notes, an assembly script and another film on the same issue are also available on our website.

Many students around the world may feel confused and overwhelmed by the refugee crisis – as do many adults. Whatever their opinion may be, this film will connect your students to the complex situation on a human level and stir the emotion needed to keep humanity from breaking. It is a type of connection which makes us human in the first place.   

LGBT History Month at TrueTube

Tue, 01/03/2016 - 18:24
We have come to the end of LGBT History Month – four weeks bursting with events and discussions, all of which challenged prejudiced ideas. Our work continues beyond this time of year however, as we continue to break down barriers between people which sometimes seem impossible to break. The theme of LGBT History month this year was Religion, Philosophy and Belief.

TrueTube’s free teaching resources embrace a wide range of subjects, including Religious Education, PSHE and Citizenship. This encompasses LGBT equality and explores its relationship to different religious traditions. It is widely thought that the relationship between LGBT equality and religion is a generally negative one. If we look closer, we can see that there are a range of religious perspectives on this topic, not just the orthodox view. Religious texts can be seen as “written in stone”,  but for many they are open to interpretation. People of faith often interpret religious texts by taking into account the time when they were written and the original audience. Many people interpret the texts in their own, personal way. There are countless groups of religious people who are proud of both their sexual orientation and their faith. They do not feel conflicted between the two aspects of their character because they are at peace with who they are. They have been met with acceptance, kindness and open minds –traits which can be easily forgotten or pushed aside, by louder, less understanding voices.

For LGBT Month 2016, we wanted to spread an important message. For the student in your classroom who may be struggling with the relationship between their faith and their sexual identity – we wanted them to be proud of who they truly are.  We did this by producing a short documentary about a courageous young woman called Katie. Katie is a nurse on a children’s ward and a practising Christian in the Roman Catholic Church. She is also gay. She talks honestly and movingly about how she struggled to reconcile her faith, and about the welcome she eventually found in the church community.  Part of my role with TrueTube is to go into schools across the UK and do workshops with the students based on the subjects we cover. During LGBT History Month, I did several workshops on ‘Katie’ which focussed on the relationship between Human Rights, LGBT equality, and religion. I was overwhelmed by the countless open minds I met in the classrooms, and the compassion each student showed. I want to say a big thank you to Whitefield School, Bullers Wood School and Finham Park School for being so welcoming. If we can all find the kindness shown by the students I met in these workshops, there would be no need for struggle at all.

Being Brave

Wed, 16/09/2015 - 14:52
There are different forms of bravery. It doesn’t necessarily have to refer to the type of physical courage we see the hero portray in novels and films. It doesn’t necessarily involve the knight in shining armour standing face to face with a dragon, ready to risk his life in the face of danger. Courage can show itself on a spectrum of colours. It can exist on a social, emotional and intellectual level. These are the forms that need to be deeply considered and respected when it comes to the subject of mental health. It is a subject that our team at TrueTube are proud to focus on when it comes to producing free teaching resources.

Apart from my passion for the subjects we cover at TrueTube, my other passion in life has always been songwritting. I was lucky enough to write the soundtrack to our short film on the nativity last Christmas, and have been given an amazing opportunity in the world of film scoring once again. This time round, we are covering the importance of relationships when it comes to mental health. I have written a song based on this topic and as a team, we will be producing a music video for it. The main message from the project is the need to be open- minded and considerate when relating to friends with mental health problems. In turn, this will encourage young people with mental health issues to feel safe and confident when talking about such personal matters with other people. They should not feel judged or ashamed, but comforted by the fact that they're friends would respond with compassion and an open mind. Discussing your own problems to others can take a lot of courage, whatever your age and this is something we want to raise in the classrooms across the world. The song has now been professionally recorded at Resident Studios, who have been a great support to TrueTube. We used the same studio to record our previous film score, and both sessions have proven to be a great experience with the help of an efficient, talented team. Students across the UK will take part in our music video, and help us spread this important message. Watch this space. 

On My Way

Wed, 20/05/2015 - 15:49
The word ‘journey’ transcends any definition you will find in a dictionary. It does not simply have to translate into ‘travelling from one place to another’. For many people, a journey can imply something far more emotional than a trip from A to B. Yes – it can mean a simple trip to the shops on a Sunday afternoon, but the word implies so much more than what the initial terminology suggests. It implies something that defines the very essence of what it means to be human.  My journey might be very different to yours. We face our own challenges in life and confront our own fears. These are the journeys that count. For someone with severe anxiety for example, that trip to the shops on a Sunday afternoon may just be the one journey that matters most. For others, it may be going to university, travelling around the world, getting married or having children. There are endless possibilities. We all have our own path and face our own demons. Whatever the journey may be, finding courage and being kind along the way should be lessons passed down from generation to generation.  They are two characteristics I found in abundance at one of the schools I had the pleasure of visiting last week…

Last Monday morning, Little Heath School - a special needs school in the London Borough of Redbridge , welcomed me into Class 14 RE to do a TrueTube workshop. I was greeted by not only the lovely Ms Anne Krisman, but a homemade chocolate cake. (which I strongly suggest should be the standard welcome gift in all social situations) As If this didn't make me feel welcomed enough, I was then introduced to one of the most helpful students I have encountered so far in my job. One of the boys had arrived at least fifteen minutes early to my session. He walked straight up to me, shook my hand and introduced himself with a beaming smile. Ms Krisman suggested he helped me set up the room for my workshop, and inevitably made my session look a lot more colourful and intriguing for the students than I could have done. Within a few minutes, he had laid my worksheets out on each desk in a colour co-ordinate format and had even sharpened all the pencils for his class mates who were about to arrive. The bell went. I was then greeted by a dozen more handshakes, a dozen more friendly faces, and felt like I had known all the students for ten years instead of ten minutes.

The TrueTube workshop focused on religious and personal journeys. To learn about religious pilgrimages, we played a card game in teams of five. The atmosphere was electric as the student’s sense of competition and enthusiasm gradually built as the game went on. The next part of the lesson involved watching the TrueTube animation ‘Life is a Journey’ as a class. This short, light hearted film introduces stages of life we all might face one day.This was the trigger for the last part of the lesson and the part which has imprinted on my memory. Each student had been asked to write down either their biggest journey so far, or what journey they want to take in the future. The results were humbling. One student said his biggest journey so far had been moving house. He showed profound articulation as he gave a thorough account of the challenges he faces and how he overcame them. The students who expressed their journeys for the future ranged from becoming an actress to getting married. The detailed ambitions and recollections expressed by the whole class emphasised the diversity of characters found in just one classroom. Their sense of passion and vision was a joy to work with, and a gift that should be treasured when it comes to the world of education. It was clear that their learning disabilities were not a barrier when it came to their creativity. On the contrary, it was a power which underpinned their inventiveness and gave them the honesty and imagination, others sometimes struggle to find.

Without a doubt, it was one of the most inspirational days working for TrueTube so far. The altruism that surrounded me that morning is something you cannot overlook. A type of morning you cannot forget. A landmark now, in my own personal journey. 

The London RE Hub 

Wed, 01/04/2015 - 11:35
Feet were thumping, shoulders were rubbing, tube doors were slamming and minds were spinning with curiosity. This was what was going on in South Kensington at 9:00am on Saturday 28th of March. The day had finally arrived. The London RE Hub Conference was taking place all day at the Ismaili Centre nearby, and many people had turned up to see what it had to offer.  It was a day for teachers, promoters and supporters of religious education to get together and share ideas. These big, beautiful concepts formed the underpinning of the whole conference, weaving together numerous minds to form a range of new and exciting possibilities.

There was a range of workshops going on throughout the day, each one with their own sense of passion and originality. There were religious speakers from the Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh and Humanist communities who teamed up with teachers to form collaborative workshops for the audience. The aim of all of these sessions was to raise standards of teaching about religious and non-religious worldviews – and the day did just that. There were also talks on religious literacy and special needs in religious education.  

It was a particularly important day for the TrueTube team, because we were also collaborating with a teacher to do a workshop. We focused on using short films in religious education and how to use them to their full potential within a classroom environment. It was Kate Christopher from the London RE Hub team and myself who led the session. Months of planning finally sprung into action and the atmosphere was electric. Using one of our philosophical animation ‘Proving God Exists’ and of our key feature animations ‘How Islam began - in ten minutes’, we demonstrated different lesson activities which could make the film come alive and engage the students with their content. We also talked about how this could then lead to deeper subject knowledge, and gave room for the audience to discuss how they would personally use the resources in a lesson. By me and Kate working together, we were able to combine knowledge from the world of media and the world of teaching to produce a new wave of enthusiasm. This enthusiasm emanated from every session until the conference finished late in the afternoon. Feet thumped, shoulders rubbed, tube doors slammed and minds spun as everybody made their way home or for a celebratory pint at the pub. However minds were now spinning with fresh ideas, new connections and faith in the future. I know I speak on behalf of the whole team at TrueTube when I say we feel honoured to have been part of the big event and cannot wait to see what happens next.  

Beating the bullies with students from Ladybridge High School

Fri, 27/03/2015 - 15:36
On a frosty morning in the middle of March, I found myself in very different surroundings to my little home in London. I was in a hotel in Lostock, a small town north west of Manchester and I had travelled this far north for a very important reason. I had been invited to present TrueTube at a PSHE workshop day at Ladybridge High School. Personal, social and health education can often be neglected in the grand scheme of the whole curriculum when ironically, it teaches some of the core values needed to be successful – a target all schools want their students to achieve. Not to mention the support it offers students dealing with social or mental health issues at an age when they can be extremely vulnerable. It is a topic that recognises and emphasises the importance of being truly happy as you grow up – and that is exactly why we produce PSHE resources at TrueTube. 

After a very welcoming and warm greeting, I was taken to my classroom. Then the atmosphere went from one end of the scale to the other (in a good way of course) from silence to noise, calmness to energy, passivity to anticipation – I had met my first students of the day. I was admittedly nervous as they came through the door. I wondered if they would behave, whether they would be engaged and whether they would warm to me. I was, as I hoped, greeted by a bunch of welcoming young faces sitting before me who looked intrigued to what the next fifty minutes had in store. I chose to do a workshop on bullying using TrueTube’s interactive resource ‘Being Victor: Being Bullied’. It focuses particularly on the notion of the ‘The Bystander Effect’ and how this can directly encourage bullying in its many forms. The bystander effect in general, refers to the psychological disposition that the more people there are, the less likely it is anyone will step in to help a person in distress or assist in a stressful situation. For example, if somebody collapsed in the middle of a busy street - the busier the crowd around them, the less likely it will be that someone will personally help. There are many reasons behind this. People may not feel confident enough, they may feel like it is somebody else’s job to do something, and in cases of bullying, they may feel scared of the consequences if they try and help the victim. 

Why do people not feel brave enough to overcome these problems? Why does standing there and doing nothing about it make the bullying worse? These were the sort of questions that were fired at me from the students as we explored the topic together. It was only my very first class of the day and they were already completely engaged and passionate about what we were talking about. The resource we used, takes the students through a set of short films dramatising a young teenager being bullied at a house party. It shows that the bystanders around him make the situation much worse by giving the bully an audience. Each film is followed by an interactive game focusing on different aspects of the situation and raising questions about what should be done. Each activity required a number of volunteers to play on the interactive whiteboard and the whole class worked together in order to complete each round. The sense of team work and enthusiasm was filling up the room and continued to do so with each class that came in throughout the day. By 3 o’clock I felt like we had achieved a lot. The concoction of 180 young minds and just one TrueTube resource had opened the door to critical thinking on a psychological level for the students and made them question how they would personally act in such situations. 

We talked about how we would all respond when we see somebody getting bullied and I found every class to be as compassionate and open minded as the next. Sometimes, a little bit of courage is all it takes to make a big difference: A very important lesson taught at Ladybridge High School that day... and a very important day at work for a researcher at TrueTube.  

Coded lives

Tue, 03/02/2015 - 10:46
We all put on a bit of a front from time to time. Ranging from a big smile when you feel miserable, or being polite to somebody you don’t get on very well with. It’s a natural human trait in certain social situations. But for people who meet the ugly face of prejudice for whatever reason, this can become much more of a burden to bear. Imagine living your day to day life as if you were somebody else. Imagine looking into the mirror when you wake up and gradually applying the mask you have become so used to wearing. A mask you have created over the years to please the unforgiving world beyond your bedroom walls. There are millions of masks like this belonging to people all over the world. Some have been broken, some have not. In many places, the kindness and support people need to shatter their own mask is lost – or was never there in the first place. Their disguise endlessly shown to the public has somehow become transfixed and they can forget who they truly are.

One of the reasons these masks are created is prejudice against sexual identity. Lesbians, gay men, bi or transgender people have faced discrimination for centuries for being true to themselves. This type of prejudice, as it is the same for many forms, is derived from fear, ignorance and a lack of understanding. With these three traits thrown together, you are left with hate. In the UK, we have made vast improvements over years in ensuring equality for everybody, regardless of their sexual orientation. Unfortunately, this is still not the case in many countries. In many parts of the world, it is still a crime to be gay and can lead to punishments ranging from a prison sentence to execution. For those people, a mask they shouldn’t have to wear is the only way to stay alive. It is the time of year, as it has been for the past ten years, to observe the history of gay rights and to stand up for those who are silenced. 

This year, the theme is ‘Coded Lives’. It explores the lives of people in the past who have had to hide their sexual identity and use a secret existence to tell the truth about themselves. This underlining expression took many forms and reflects the courage of individuals of certain individuals closed minded world. From an independent woman of the 17th century to transgender men of the 18th century, these people were not ashamed of who they were, and expressed themselves through diaries, attire, paintings and so on. If you’re looking for some fun ideas to teach this subject in the classroom, then TrueTube may just have the answer for you. A free lesson plan, assembly script and many short films on this topic are available on our website, approaching different themes within the context of this commemorative month ahead. The assembly script suggests creative activities and focuses on the ‘Coded Lives’ theme this year. It emphasizes how people from the past were comfortable in their own skin and still act as an inspiration to this day. They also reflect on how much the world has changed since their time, even though we still have a long way to go. Hopefully we continue in the same direction. 

Time to celebrate

Thu, 18/12/2014 - 10:26
This time last year, I was quite a different person. Many people who know me may say I was slightly more reserved, others would say I lacked confidence in my own ability when I was, in fact, perfectly capable of achieving the goals I set out to achieve. They were right to make such judgements. I had graduated with a degree in Religion, Philosophy and Ethics, and was searching for a job where I could apply my knowledge of the subjects to a working environment. I knew I should try to challenge myself but still lacked a key ingredient – self-belief. A characteristic you need to find for yourself.
Last December, I received a phone call from an unknown number on a frosty afternoon. I had been waiting for the phone to ring all day. It was a call from the TrueTube team offering me the position of ‘Marketing and Research Assistant’ on a twelve month basis. I have held this position within the team for almost a year now and feel it has been one of the best experiences in my adult life. Looking back on this blog has led me to reflect on the past year and my achievements within it. From sailing across the rough English seas to presenting TrueTube at The University of Oxford, I can confidently say it has not been your average internship.

If you asked me last Christmas if I was capable of doing such things, I would have responded with an adamant ‘No’. After putting myself out of my comfort zone several times, I can confidently say I would give a very different response this time round. By the time I sit back with mulled wine and a mince pie this year, I will have presented at over twenty schools, thirteen universities and several other educational institutions. I will have stories of sailing a tall ship, stories of playing the voice of a cartoon character and even stories of how I wrote the music to a film on the TrueTube website. Writing the music to the film ‘Mary’s Lullaby’ has got to be the highlight of the year for me. I have always had a keen interest in song writing and have played the piano since I could remember. Being able to combine my passion for both religious education and music is something I never thought would be possible until I worked for TrueTube. When I’ve written my own music in the past, there were no rules to follow, so creating a song and simultaneously following the rules of timing and relevance to a film, was a challenge in itself. This time I was put out of my comfort zone in terms of music, and as before with TrueTube, I ended up thoroughly enjoying myself. From writing the lyrics, to working out fitting harmonies, I did my best and put everything I had into it. It didn’t take much to persuade my dearest sister to sing the melody in the recording studio and after a lot of hard work; we had a finished track for the Nativity film which is now live on the website and available to watch here. Having a job where you can be that creative and combine the subjects you love, is a rare thing. I have recently been offered a position within the TrueTube team for another year, and could not be happier.

I would like to thank The Rank Foundation and TrueTube for giving me this amazing opportunity. I am not the shy, slightly self-doubting graduate that I was a year ago, but a confident, happy and valuable member of a hard working team. I am proud to work for a company that promotes an understanding of such important subjects and am already looking forward to what the New Year brings.

LISTEN UP STUDENTS

Thu, 13/11/2014 - 17:05
As human beings, we express ourselves in many different ways.  We translate our emotions to others through speech, body language, paintings, music, literature, dance, sculptures and many other forms which grasp the essence of our imagination. All of which, are unique in their own right...but we’re missing one. Whether you want to educate, inspire or move your audience to tears, creating your film can provide you the key in doing so.

When you have an idea, it doesn’t just have to stay locked up inside your head.  You have the power to illustrate your idea into some kind of creation that the world can see and share with you. If you wanted to shout out to the world about how much you love chocolate for example, you would have endless options on how to go about it.  You could write a song about how it was your favourite thing in the world, draw a picture of an imaginary chocolate land, or bake your own chocolate cake.  You could even spread a picture of the masterpiece all over social media. Or, you could make a film. You could make a film about where chocolate comes from, using actors, animation and music. This allows you to combine many art forms into just one performance. Enough about chocolate though and onto more serious matters.  After all, you could make a film about anything you wanted. There is a challenge coming up which you can be part of. First of all, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions. Do you have an imagination? Do you have your own view of the world and know what we could all do to make it a better place?  We all have the potential to make a difference and even a short film can have a huge impact. You could engage people with your ideas all around the world and inspire them to make a difference in the same way you are.

Parliaments’ Education Service has launched a competition called ‘Light’s, Camera, Parliament’ which gives you the opportunity to speak out. The challenge is to produce a three minute film on what new law or amendment to the law you would introduce. You will need to think of the story you want to tell, what genre it would be and how this would demonstrate your new law. Entries can be submitted from the 12th of January until the 27th of February 2015. Handy tips and resources on making the film can be found on thecompetition website to give you a helping hand. Imagination, passion and an eye for style are a necessity for this task. Think you have all three? Then get started and make your voice heard. 

listen up students

Thu, 13/11/2014 - 16:06
As human beings, we express ourselves in many different ways.  We translate our emotions to others through speech, body language, paintings, music, literature, dance, sculptures and many other forms which grasp the essence of our imagination. All of which, are unique in their own right...but we’re missing one. Whether you want to educate, inspire or move your audience to tears, creating your film can provide you the key in doing so.

When you have an idea, it doesn’t just have to stay locked up inside your head.  You have the power to illustrate your idea into some kind of creation that the world can see and share with you. If you wanted to shout out to the world about how much you love chocolate for example, you would have endless options on how to go about it.  You could write a song about how it was your favourite thing in the world, draw a picture of an imaginary chocolate land, or bake your own chocolate cake.  You could even spread a picture of the masterpiece all over social media. Or, you could make a film. You could make a film about where chocolate comes from, using actors, animation and music. This allows you to combine many art forms into just one performance. Enough about chocolate though and onto more serious matters.  After all, you could make a film about anything you wanted. There is a challenge coming up which you can be part of. First of all, you need to ask yourself a couple of questions. Do you have an imagination? Do you have your own view of the world and know what we could all do to make it a better place?  We all have the potential to make a difference and even a short film can have a huge impact. You could engage people with your ideas all around the world and inspire them to make a difference in the same way you are.

Parliaments’ Education Service has launched a competition called ‘Light’s, Camera, Parliament’ which gives you the opportunity to speak out. The challenge is to produce a three minute film on what new law or amendment to the law you would introduce. You will need to think of the story you want to tell, what genre it would be and how this would demonstrate your new law. Entries can be submitted from the 12th of January until the 27th of February 2015. Handy tips and resources on making the film can be found on the competition website to give you a helping hand. Imagination, passion and an eye for style are a necessity for this task. Think you have all three? Then get started and make your voice heard. 

REMEMBER, remember the 5th of november

Tue, 28/10/2014 - 10:34
Bonfire night to most people is a sign of winter coming. It is a time for friends and family to huddle together under bursts of fireworks, drinking hot cups of soup and swirling around sparklers by the dozen. But there is a genuine story behind bonfire night which must not be forgotten. At the heart of the Catherine wheels, rockets and comforting food, lies an ingrained historical tale of religion, oppression and human rights. It marks the defeat of a terrorist plot to blow up the King and the Houses of Parliament in 1605. One of the members of the terrorist group, Guy Fawkes, was discovered by the opposition just a couple of days before the planned explosion. But the core intentions and reasoning behind this historical tale are a little more complicated than just a failed explosion. It all stems from the deeply rooted conflict between the Protestants and the Catholics in the time of Tudor England. Guy Fawkes was part of a Catholic uprising who wanted England to return to Catholic rule. At this point in time, England was ruled by a protestant King, and Catholics were deprived of many basic human rights amongst society. On one hand, Guy Fawkes was seen as a violent criminal, plotting against his King and Country, from another perspective, he was fighting for religious and political freedom. One man’s criminal is another man’s hero. A core reason to why we may have misplaced the story, is that it is a little too close to home: Radical members of a religion planning to overthrow the government at any violent cost and inevitably making life unbearable for honest, peaceful member of their religion. This is not by any means a situation we only find 500 years ago.

TrueTube have provided a film and accompanying assembly script that reveals the interesting story behind this annual tradition. The film takes on the humorous role of reporting the news in the time of 1605, presenting the key features of the dramatic event. The accompanying assembly script provides suggested activities, the story of Guy Fawkes in depth and even safety precautions on the use of fireworks. These resources are bound to get your students thinking a little deeper this year when they’re clustered together gazing up at the illuminated sky. 

Diwali

Wed, 22/10/2014 - 12:02
The underlining principle of Diwali is something everybody can relate to, regardless of faith. It represents the notion of light overcoming darkness, good triumphing over evil, hope above despair and love over hate. In the Indian calendar, it is celebrated at the end of the lunar month, Ashwin which falls sometime around October or November. This year, it is celebrated on the 23rd of October and the global anticipation is indisputable. Lights are already starting to beam around the world, symbolising a principle that the realms of Hinduism strive towards. The celebration is based on ancient Hindu literature, namely the story of Ramayana. It is the story of how Rama defeated the evil demon Ravana and protected his wife Sita from harm. He was welcomed back to his Kingdom with open arms and a stream of lights. Hindu’s believe Rama was the God Vishnu in human form. He represents courage, integrity, and the power of light over darkness, all of which, underline the essence of Diwali.  

TrueTube have provided a range of resources to help you bring this colourful tradition to life in your classroom. An assembly script, lesson plan and three films can be found on the website, each approaching the festival from a different angle. Two of the films focus on the Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden. TrueTube explores the celebration by asking a range of temple visitors what Diwali personally means to them. The third film takes the team around the Diwali celebrations going on in Trafalgar Square, exploring the range of activities taking place and interviewing the public. The assembly script and lesson plan provide a detailed story of Ramayana, starter activates, main activities and a plenary. Diwali traditions and teachings do not have to be limited to Hindu celebrations around in the city centre, they can be illuminated within your classroom walls. 

What is jihad?

Thu, 16/10/2014 - 11:43
Throughout history, ignorance has cast its shadow over the realms of religion as it has done for many ideologies. The act of jumping to conclusions without in-depth knowledge of what is being judged, can often lead to generalisation and fear. If we are to form an opinion of a whole religion, we need to look beyond specific violent groups of people who hijack the religious terminology. Extremists have used religion to justify their unimaginable crimes throughout history, and it has not by any means been limited to Islam. We must not forget the violent Crusades undertaken by Christians in the Middle Ages or the Zionist militants in Palestine who carried out terrorist attacks in the 1940's. Or the Sinhala Buddhist groups in Sri Lanka who promote violence against local Christians and Tamils right now in the 21st Century. This is highlighting just a few examples amongst many. Humanity has not always committed hideous criminal acts in the name of their faith, but in the name of their political, racial, or sexist agenda. They are only fuelled by the hatred of outsiders. It is through the power of education that people can see beyond the stereotype of the religious extremist. Whether you are an atheist, agnostic or a religious follower, respect for different beliefs should to be at the heart of each opinion formed. It is this variety of different perspectives and beliefs within communities, which makes our world so interesting. The ability to understand and tolerate such differences amongst the same society, plays a key part in community life and holds a key position in our sociocultural evolution. It is an essential component of peace.

Teachings of all religions are often misinterpreted by the media, public and certain groups of people. In light of current news, the word Jihad has been falsely used by the media to represent a violent, corrupt group of people in the Middle East. The importance of defining terminology accurately in a religious context plays a vital role in avoiding the simplification mentioned earlier. The word Jihad literally means ‘to struggle’. It can refer to the personal, inner struggle to be a good person and the external struggle, to defend peace and the religion itself. Violence should only be used as a last resort in such a defence, and this is where the confusion can lie. It is not a declaration of war against other religions as so many people think. TrueTube have recently produced the film ‘What is Jihad’ which explores the true meaning of the word. The accompanying Teachers’ Notes also offer a range of activities and discussion questions to help you get started.  By interviewing an Imam, a Muslim youth worker and a Muslim journalist on what Jihad means to them, the audience will gain a better understanding of this often misunderstood concept. Approaching this topic from a religious perspective, allows Muslims to personally defend themselves from the generalisation and prejudice they constantly face from the media. The growing shadow of ignorance can be lifted for the next generation if we allow such voices to be heard in your classroom. 

Yom Kippur 

Tue, 30/09/2014 - 15:02
Being sorry, being forgiven and being able to forgive yourself, are just a few key ingredients to leading a happy life. They are integrated into the notion of having a moral compass, a conscious guiding us through the paths of what we believe to be right and wrong. The ability to be truly sorry for when we go against this, and then being able to forgive ourselves, is no less significant in this cycle of atonement. These themes are reflected upon in most worldwide religions, each with their own underlining story, rituals and traditions. The Jewish festival of Yom Kippur mirrors the significance to these attributes. It is based on the parable of Jonah, a powerful story told in the Torah.  

Yom Kippur takes place ten days after the Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The Jewish people use the days in between to say sorry to whoever they have wronged in the past year. It is a time to not just say the words, but to express our sincerity in whichever way best suits the situation. It is also a time to forgive those who have wronged us in the past. For Jewish people, Yom Kippur is a time to acknowledge their wrongdoing towards people in their lives and towards God. This is done through building new bonds in relationships, fasting and giving money to charity. TrueTube has provided an assembly script and film for this religious festival. The assembly script provides activities, key features and the history of Yom Kippur. The short, accompanying film concentrates on the concept of saying sorry in general. TrueTube takes to the streets of London, revealing the public opinion on saying sorry. Facing guilt, letting go of bitterness and moving forward from conflict, offer an escape from the hatred too often attached to such matters. These principles do not have to be limited to religion. It is something we should all strive towards and a key lesson for students to learn. 

Navaratri

Wed, 24/09/2014 - 10:37
The cultural and religious fabrics running through India, are completely intertwined. The numerous Hindu festivals are not just celebrated in the heart of this country, but throughout the world. Bursting with colour, passion and personal meaning to the individual people involved, these religious celebrations undoubtedly hold a firm place within the history and future of Hinduism. One particularly important tradition celebrated around this time of year is Navaratri. It lasts for nine days around early autumn and celebrates the female aspects of God’s character.

This tradition stems from the notion that God is neither male nor female. According to Hinduism, God is a spirit without a body and part of everything within existence. Hindus believe God can take the form of a variety of Gods and Goddesses, each one symbolising a significant characteristic. Navaratri is a time to reflect upon the power of the Mother Goddess and the gift of life. We all depend on the ability of women to give new life through birth, and this tradition reflects such gratitude. In Hinduism, all forms of God depend on Shakti, the female side of God’s personality. There are many forms of Shakti, each one symbolising a different, yet important female characteristic. Durga, the warrior incarnation of the supreme mother is particularly worshipped in this tradition. The protective, caring, loving and strong aspects of the female personality are emphasised through the rituals, beliefs and underlining story. 

TrueTube has provided an assembly script which highlights the key elements of this Hindu tradition. It includes the story of the Goddes Durga, key features about the religion itself, and suggested activities. The accompanying film explores the life of a young Hindu called Jai and his personal religious journey. The colour and passion underlining Navaratri does not have to be limited to the Hindu world, let it come to life in your early morning assembly. 

Paving the way for the future

Fri, 12/09/2014 - 10:18
I have already gathered a patchwork of wonderful memories from this internship and I still have three months of content left to add to it. Last night, I returned home for a two day stay in The Royal Foundation of St Katherine’s. I was there to celebrate something that meant a lot to everybody involved. I am part of the ‘Time to Shine’ internship scheme funded by the Rank Foundation. The programme offers people the chance to get their foot in the door in the world of work. Graduates in particular, are all too familiar with the face of rejection when searching for that dream job. Time to Shine gave me the opportunity to finally apply my degree of Religion, Philosophy and Ethics to a workplace. As a marketing and research assistant at TrueTube, I have tried my best to put everything I have into the role.

Stepping out of my comfort zone has certainly been a key part of scheme, but has led to experiences I wouldn't change for the world. If you said to me a year ago I would be sailing around the UK, presenting at the University of Oxford, attending award ceremonies at the Houses of Parliament and even singing the introduction theme song to an animation, I wouldn't have believed you. Primarily, I wouldn't have thought the variety of these different activities would be available under one job description. Secondly, I would have completely lacked the confidence. I remember the very first school I visited had only about fifteen people in the audience. I could hardly sleep the night before, and was a complete bundle of nerves on my way to the classroom when it was time to do my presentation. Feeling sick to my stomach, I just went for it and ended up doing exactly what I had planned. No slip ups, no stuttering and good feedback at the end. I just took the plunge. Since then, I have tried to apply the same attitude to all the daunting opportunities this internship has thrown at me. Daunting, but exciting. Every single time, finding the courage to do things I never thought I would do, has paid off. At the Royal Foundation of St Katherine’s Dock, I presented my ‘Time to Shine’ story in front of an audience which would have terrified me nine months ago. I was still nervous this time round, but I knew I was capable of doing a good job of it – and I did. I do not yet know what the future holds in store for me. Wherever fate takes me, I know the wonderful memories of this internship will pave the way for me. 

Hiding behind a screen 

Tue, 12/08/2014 - 16:58
Bullying can be briefly defined as deliberately hurting another person physically or emotionally. As far as we know, it has always been a common behaviour of human beings, and a common behaviour of other animals. Often justified in evolutionary terms as falling under the heading ‘survival of the fittest’, this kind of oppression has always been part of nature. By no means however, does this mean that it can be justified in modern day society. We cannot be blamed for the actions of our ancient ancestors, but we can make a stand against such behaviour in our own generation. To take an extreme example, rape is a natural behaviour within the animal kingdom but this does not mean we condone the act within our own society. There are certain naturalistic inclinations which are justifiably overcome by our notion of ethics. Crimes such as murder and rape fall under this category, but the term “bullying” remains a little hazy, especially when we consider the realm of cyber-bullying.

There are so many different forms of bullying, the latest of which takes form on the internet. The internet is an extraordinary human invention which we should admire. However all wonderful creations come with their flaws. In this case, it is the cowardice of people hiding behind a screen. Due to the extraordinarily large scope of social media, it is  impossible for the technical geniuses to monitor cyber-bullying, let alone the teachers or parents. Facebook, Twitter and phone apps are just a few of the platforms used to intimidate, sexually harass and blackmail others. The attribute of anonymity and the ability to delete data, adds to the sinister nature of this type of bullying. To prevent this kind of behaviour, the primary focus has to be on education. We must raise awareness of the history, scope and dangers of the issue to the youngest generations. A short film like the one below, can offer support to people who may secretly need it the most. TrueTube provides a range of resources on bullying in general, many of which focus on cyber-bullying in particular. If you’re looking for a sensitive, yet informative way to tackle this topic in the classroom, then look no further. 

A philosophical approach to education 

Thu, 31/07/2014 - 13:06
An important part of education, and indeed life in general, is to develop the ability to think for ourselves. In a world surrounded by technology and routine, easy solutions and calculated results have become the norm. The ability to stand back from a situation, to question it and challenge it is a skill many of us are losing our grip on. I am not only referring to the existential questions that have puzzled humanity for thousands of years; we don’t necessarily have to discover the meaning of life when reading a book or appreciating the beauty of a painting. What is important, however, is to think critically about the matter at hand, making our own minds up about the issue. Gathering knowledge and questioning what we already know should always go hand in hand.

From our earliest years to our last, we can benefit from philosophical questioning, increasing our ability to reason, debate and understand a different point of view. Without this skill, we are not so very different to a computer being programmed with facts and figures. It is what makes us human, and gives us the initiative to seek knowledge in the very first place. It is for these reasons which I support the emphasis on philosophy within education. Your students should have the time to delve into the minds of their fellow classmates and reflect upon the diversity of opinions in the room, let alone the diversity of opinions beyond the school gates.

Critical thinking can be used in all areas of education and holds a firm place in the study of religion in particular. Examining and reflecting upon a range of religious beliefs allows the upcoming generation to have a broader understanding of the world around them from cultural, historical and political perspectives. In the animated film “Proving God Exists” TrueTube has provided an introduction to the philosophy of religion, with teacher’s notes and an interactive activity to get your students brains ticking. In the film, a geeky scientist explores the main arguments for God’s existence, focusing on the key points, strengths and weaknesses of each one. The use of animation and humour make this film the perfect way to ease your students into what can be very complicated topics. The interactive activity offers a revision tool for your class, providing a stimulating task that the whole class can get stuck into. I have visited over seven universities and eleven schools since the beginning of this year, and often choose this resource to demonstrate. It has always received overwhelmingly positive feedback and continues to do so. Have a look at the link below and see what you think.

Back to school

Tue, 29/07/2014 - 16:25
It can be hard to find motivation once we've had a long break. A good few weeks of soaking up the sun and forgetting our worries can be tricky for anyone to leave behind. Going into the office Monday morning after three weeks in Thailand can be just as challenging as the first day back at school in September. Finding new goals and the determination to achieve them is the key. TrueTube has provided an assembly script, PowerPoint presentation and film which aims to inspire those of us who may feel a little bit lost when trying to get back into the swing of things. The resources aim to inspire the audience to think about their next goal and reflect upon the journey ahead. The same metaphor is used throughout the whole script, with a tower representing the ultimate goal and the dangerous path through the mountains representing the journey. The script offers advice on how to reach such targets, emphasising the fact that the climb towards the tower is just as valuable and rewarding as the achievement itself. By exploring the implications of danger, distractions and attitudes towards your objective, this resource is the perfect way to kick off the new school year. Acknowledging the importance of the journey towards our goal is something we can forget to do whether we are an adult or a child. These resources may benefit more than just your students, giving everyone the lift needed after time away. 

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