Primary School Teaching – Hinduism Week

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Recently, I had the amazing opportunity to get some hands on experience of teaching in a primary school. As we are studying Hinduism at the moment, and the school we went to was in the middle of ‘Hinduism Week’, it was the perfect opportunity, not only to reflect on my own learning, but to also impart my knowledge on the pupils I was teaching.

We began the day by meeting in the staff room to discuss the day ahead and to make sure that we had everything we needed for the assembly we were going to perform, and for our lessons. It was also a good time to calm the nerves as we were all in the same boat in regards to teaching primary as opposed to secondary school children.

Our assembly in the morning was a simple reenactment of the story of Diwali as told in the Hindu holy book, the Ramayana. Me and one of my fellow students and friend narrated the play. The children really seemed to enjoy the performance, especially the comedic acting skills of our two main characters, Rama and Sita! They all got involved with the play, shouting “boo” or laughing along with our characters.

After the children had their playtime, myself and two other trainee teachers in my group introduced ourselves and began teaching our lesson we had planned in previous Hinduism seminars. Our lesson was about the holy books of Hinduism. It was quite a challenge to teach in terms of presenting the complexity of the books and their messages in a fun and interesting way, but we managed it, and the children seemed really engaged!

We began our lesson with a ‘think, pair, share’ activity in which the children had a think about their favourite stories. They then paired up with someone on their table to discuss what their favourite books were, and then shared with the rest of the class. The aim of this activity was for the pupils to identify similarities between their favourite stories. They all managed to suss out that most of the stories they thought of had good and bad characters, and that generally, the ‘goodie’ would overcome the ‘baddie’. We explained to them that this was the same in the holy books. I feel like for their age group (year 4) this was a nice way to begin looking at Hinduism, as it made it a little less alien to them.

Once they had an idea of what the holy books were like, we explained that some of them were not originally written down, but passed down the generations simply by remembering the stories and telling your children, before eventually being written in a language called Sanskrit. The story of Diwali was one of the stories written in Sanskrit, so this was a good link to what they had previously seen in the assembly. We thought it would be a really fun activity if they could have a go at writing their names in Sanskrit so that they could see the language up close. The pupils really seemed to respond to this activity and got very creative with their designs.

Once they had spent some time decorating their Sanskrit writing, we showed them a story from one of the holy books called The Bold Beggar. Basically, the story teaches Hindus that they should be selfless and help those in need. The pupils seemed to grasp this idea well, as they all  managed to figure out the moral of the story when asked. We thought that to consolidate their understanding that many Hindu stories are meant to pass on a message on how to live a just life, it would be a good idea to have them write their own short story with a nice message. We had already prepared all our materials, so gave out the ready-made story books, and let them get on with their story. The only slight problem we encountered was some of the children wanted to carry on drawing pictures in their books instead of writing the story. However, once we began giving stickers to children who were on task, they soon got on with their writing!

To end the lesson, we showed them the story of the Six Blind Men and the Elephant. Before we showed the class the full story, we asked the children what they thought different areas of an elephant would feel like if they couldn’t see what it was. They all came up with very similar answers to the video we showed them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vn9BUfUCL4I&t=31s

The class grasped the idea that the moral of this story was that people should never simply jump to conclusions, and should listen to everyone’s opinions before making a judgement.

Overall, it was a fantastic day, and ran extremely smoothly, and even though I am studying to be a secondary school teacher, I would definitely jump at the opportunity to go back and teach some more. The children were a credit to the school!

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