Friday, August 12, 2011

Leap of Faith

I once taught a year 10 RE lesson at a rough school in St John's Wood. After 10 or so minutes, I had everyone sitting in their seats, so I began with a simple starter: Christianity, Judaism, Sikhism, Islam—what is their order from oldest to youngest?

The kids argued it out for a while, and then I gave them the correct answer, writing it on the board: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism.

"That ain't right," said one girl.

"How do you mean?" I asked.

"The Koran says there's no prophet after Mohammed."

"OK, I see what you mean," I said, "but Islam and Sikhism are two completely separate religions--so they don't really have anything to do with each other when it comes to prophets."

"But Islam's the last religion, so Sikhism couldn't have come after."

"Well ... I see what you're saying, but that order is actually right. Sikhism—"

"Do you know how many Muslims there are at this school?"

"Well, that's not relevant, the point—"

"Oooooh," said half the class in unison.

"He just said you're irrelevant!" shouted one boy.

"Racist!" shouted another.

In the space of a few seconds the chant had swelled from most of the class: "Racist! Racist! Racist!"

I had apparently stepped into some vast chasm. It was like that scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, in which Harrison Ford takes a leap of faith and is rewarded with a hitherto invisible bridge — I was rewarded with no bridge; I just fell into the darkness below.

Eventually, I had to call in one of the permanent teachers to help quell the storm, but the damage was well and truly done.

Anyway, my point is: I'm pretty sure that's how riots begin.


viiviiviivii said...

Very funny!

Anonymous said...

Jules, A few things:
1. This is very funny.
2. I've spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to find that blog post where that girl wanted to go to the toilet in class. WHERE IS IT?
3. I think you've owned that green-on-green stripey jumper for too long (I know because I've been back through years of archived blog re no.2) - oxfam needs it.
4. I kept getting in trouble for waking your baby namesake with explosive laughter while going through the archives.

Jules said...

I know, I have a problem with clothes. I never want to buy new ones, and I never want to get rid of old ones. Old Greeny has been around for at least three years; he just refuses to give up the ghost. Perhaps part of the problem is that I give them all names.

I'm assuming the story you're talking about is this one:

Happy to hear it provokes such laughter.