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Rights Respecting PDF Print E-mail
Written by Peter Johnston   
Friday, 23 April 2010 18:27

Rights Respecting School

Today at Auchinraith Primary there was a full day with many different activities based around the Convention on the Rights of the Child that is promoted by UNICEF. The school is working towards an award as a rights respecting school. It was great to be able to assist today in the workshops, along with many others, including Steve Younger as the other chaplain to the school.

Steve and I were tasked with doing short 20 minutes workshops looking at article 14 which states:

Children have the right to think and believe what they want, and to practise their religion, as long as they are not stopping other people from enjoying their rights. Parents should guide their children on these matters.

I had been thinking about this for some time as it is quite a subject to look at in 20 minutes with Primary 1 - 3 children (ages 5-8ish). I had a wee twinge of jealousy for Steve who was running his workshops with the older children. [There's more...]

That said, I very much enjoyed the brief workshops. I had way over-prepared for it, but always better to have more stuff you can ditch than too little and waffle. We looked at a number of simple "I think..." statements to determine whether they were right, wrong, or something different. E.g. I think 1+1=2; I think 2+2=5; I think maths is hard. Or I think fish live in the desert; I think dinosaurs lived a long time ago; I think dinosaurs are cool. The point being to try simply to show that while some statements are right and others wrong, some can be either right or wrong depending on who is saying them and what they think and believe.

I had wanted, obviously, to get into a discussion about God and faith, but I rapidly realised that with this age group I was going to have to keep it much simpler as we explored the concept of respecting what other people believed.

So, the main example based around what we believed was the best colour. After getting lots of different suggestions from the children and explanations of why that colour was the best in their view, I picked one child to become the Prime Minister for the next five minutes and make the rules for everyone else. With a wave of their wand, they determined that the colour they thought was best had to be accepted by everyone else as the best colour. As you can imagine, this did not go down well!

However, it proved quite effective in exploring very simply the idea of being able to decide for yourself what you think, but also having to respect the beliefs of other people. I could definitely have done with another 20 minutes, however!!

Little did the children know that this very theme of having the right to believe what you think is right, and also respecting others with different beliefs is proving so very difficult within the walls of the church at the moment as Presbyteries and Kirk Sessions everywhere in the Church of Scotland debate the consultancy paper from the Special Commission on Same-Sex Relationships and the Ministry, which Hamilton Presbytery debated on Tuesday, and which we in St Andrew's will look at this Sunday afternoon.

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