What I think about Religious Studies...

'Being brought up in a Muslim household, I have been taught throughout my life that, "Knowledge is half of religion."As a result, a desire to learn about anything and everything has been with me for as long as I can remember.

However, my desire to increase my knowledge about other people's beliefs, came into fruition when I joined Haslingden High School. Over the last five years, I have realised that RS has the potential to change the way we learn and change the way we interact with those who have different religious and non religious beliefs.

Firstly, RS allows students to look for questions, rather than being told to work out answers, like you're expected to do in, for example; Maths. This allows for everyone to choose what they want to learn about and ask whatever question they want to ask.

RS shows young people completely different perspectives, whilst maintaining the idea that it doesn't matter whether you're Jewish or Muslim, Hindu or Sikh - we all have so much more in common than what is originally thought!

I will forever be indebted to RS because it changed the way I looked at the world. Previously, I had thought that everything was black and white. I believed that those who voted Conservatives were rich and greedy, whilst those who voted Labour were hard working and good people. As I went in to more and more RS lessons, I noticed that there were so many shades of grey in between. As a result, I no longer hold these beliefs.

An Advocate of RS, Dr Peter Vardy came in to deliver a lecture at Haslingden High School. In his lecture, he taught me that if I read, for example, The Guardian, then I should also read The Daily Mail, in order to come to my own conclusion. This is exactly why I fell in love with RS, because it teaches people to stop and consider what "the other side" believe and why they believe it. RS does this whilst consistently encouraging good debate. Unfortunately, the kind of debate we see on TV, is simply both sides trying to humiliate the other. Instead, by RS encouraging good debate, we see both sides wanting to listen to each other and want to come out of the debate, not as a winner, but as someone who has increased their knowledge on the whatever subject that was discussed.

As a conclusion, I think that if RS is continually taught in schools, then we will see less people become vulnerable to the lies and misinterpretations that the media promote. I myself saw it in an RS lesson, where we read single verses of the translated Quran, and immediately, as a class, judged them as barbaric, until we learnt about the context of the verse and realised that it wasn't barbaric at all, and in fact was extremely justifiable'.

Tarek Ahmed, GCSE Student, Haslingden High School

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