Children explore faith in Pocklington

Prep School pupils sit on cushions in the meditation room atMadhyamaka Kadampa Meditation Centre Photo: Year 6 pupils sitting on meditation cushions in the meditation room at Madhyamaka Kadampa Meditation Centre

Pocklington Prep School celebrated their faith day by visiting different places of worship in the Pocklington community. Year 2 Class Teacher Romney Walton has prepared the following report:

As Religious Studies coordinator at Pocklington Prep School I think it is important to learn more about our local community and the people who live in it as well as those who follow different religious belief paths to our own.

To that end, all children from Reception to Year 5 recently visited All Saints Anglican Church, St Mary and St Joseph’s Catholic Church and the Methodist Church. They were welcomed by volunteers who taught the children a little bit about the history of their religion and building itself.

The children were detectives, using their eyes and ears to learn more about the practices and different parts of the Christian churches comparing the different features. We also saw the beautiful Christmas tree exhibition at All Saints Church, spotting the Pocklington School tree where children had written their wishes for Christmas on hearts, then hung them on the tree. Hopes included world peace and no more hunger.

Year 6 went to visit the nearby Madhyamaka Kadampa Meditation Centre, which was so peaceful and quiet. The children took their shoes off before entering the meditation room and sat on the meditation cushions. They re-enacted the story of Buddha and found out how and where Buddhism began, dressing up as the characters which was fun and gave the children a greater understanding of why Buddhists seek enlightenment and freedom from suffering.

The children then took part in a meditation, concentrating on their breathing, and comments afterwards included: “I feel more relaxed and calm,” and “I feel peaceful - like I am the only one in the room.”

Many thanks to the local community and volunteers who gave their time to welcome us all into their special places of worship. 

Preparation

The children watched video clips of celebration in different Christian places of worship and described their own experiences of visiting them with family. They were encouraged to use the vocabulary of the features of the building such as font, pulpit, lectern, altar, organ, pews, Bible, candles, stained glass windows, icons, cross and crucifix and then idenitfy these features in the churches they visited.

How we organised the learning

The churches had prepared for our visits and welcomed us into their buildings to look for these features and compare the different buildings, explaining why the crucifix was found more in the Catholic Church and the cross in the Anglican and Methodist Churches. We saw the large pulpit in the Methodist Church and candles in the Catholic Church as well as learning about the connection between the Catholic Church and Pocklington school’s founder, the clergyman John Dolman whose family were Catholic before the Reformation. We also spotted the School crest in the stained glass window which was designed by one of his ancestors.

Prep School pupils dress up and reenact the story of Buddha at the Madhyamaka Kadampa Meditation CentreImpact

The world is a wonderful diverse place with so many interesting religions and belief systems in which people live their lives. A trip to the churches or any place of worship develops tolerance and a greater understanding of these. The more knowledge the children have about people around them and in other communities, the more respect and understanding they can show - which is in line with our Pocklington School values. To be able to talk to people that may have the same or different views and to ask questions in a safe environment gives the children deeper awareness and acceptance of their own culture and that of others so they can be kind, thoughtful and inclusive citizens in our world.

Comments from children:

“It is very interesting!” – Joseph, Year 2.

“We didn’t know that Catholics do the sign of the cross with holy water before entering the church,” - Clark and Jessica-Summer, Year 2.

“I found out that there’s a statue of Mary in All Saints Church and that stained glass windows tell stories,” – Nathan, Year 2

“I learned about Buddha's life. I didn't know about him before,” Will, Year 6.

“I’ve done meditation before but now I’ve met a Buddhist I understand a bit more about why the Nun shaved her hair. I feel peaceful meditating.”

To view photographs from Faith Day, please view the Flickr album here.