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Welcome to Connected, the MIF blog and the place where we share our news, thoughts and inspiration.

Forthcoming Interfaith Explorers webinar on critical thinking! Sign up!

Critical Thinking

Sign up to our next Interfaith Explorer webinar with Claire Clinton to discuss why critical thinking skills are vital for children in the 21st century. Joining her is advance skills teacher in Philosophy for Children, Lisa Naylor who is also an expert in critical thinking methodologies.

So what is critical thinking? Well, education’s overall goal is to produce students that will be able to think critically and not just absorb information. So critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally; engage in reflective and independent thinking; as well as see both sides of an issue. All these are vital skills for young people growing up in a diverse and rapidly changing world, and exposed to increasing amounts of conflicting information. Consequently, this webinar will help teachers:

  • Understand the benefits of training pupils in critical thinking;
  • With ideas to promote critical thinking in the classroom;
  • Demonstrate how critical thinking supports interfaith activities between pupils.

More info and webinar registration.

Join us for our webinar on fundamental British values in schools & community cohesion

Core Values

Since September 2014, all schools in England are required to actively promote fundamental British values to their pupils, both in lessons and in extracurricular activities delivered by the school. Consequently, this webinar scheduled for 4pm on Thursday 23rd April will help teachers:

  • Consider Ofsted expectations about promoting fundamental British values and the role of schools;
  • Show how fundamental British values as defined by Ofsted can contribute effectively to spiritual, moral, social and cultural development in pupils;
  • Provide teachers with ideas for the classroom that can promote fundamental British values;
    Show how safeguarding pupils relates to fundamental British values.

More info and webinar registration.

Sign up to our next Interfaith Explorers webinar exploring the role of schools in challenging extremism

Join our religious education expert Clair Clinton at our next Interfaith Explorers webinar to discuss the new statutory duty on schools to prevent people being drawn into terrorism. Scheduled for 4pm on Thursday 26th March, this webinar will:

  • Help practitioners understand what is meant by extremism in the context of the Government’s Prevent strategy and the new public duty on schools;
  • Explore Ofsted requirements for schools to promote and support:
    • Fundamental British values
    • Behaviour and safety of pupils in school
  • Highlight effective ways to facilitate classroom discussions about extremism and extreme views;
  • To consider best practice in challenging risks associated with extremism;
  • Explore the risks in challenging extremist behaviour shown by pupils – including how to deal with parents.
  • More info and webinar registration.

School children and the appeal of ISIS – we are not fighting a losing battle

Professor David Khalili

Foundation Chairman, Professor Nasser David Khalili, talks about how success depends upon harnessing the positive forces of mosques, schools, madrassas and social media to create a new generation of young people who are immune to the ideology of ISIS.

Every parent can share the horror and devastation of the three families who fear their daughters have fled to join extremists in Syria. The apparent decision of these three London school friends has brought home, in a truly shocking way, the threat of radicalisation and its abhorrent appeal to young people.

As Baroness Warsi said at the weekend, there is no single answer to what attracts bright, young women, from loving homes to violent extremism. In the case of these three girls, they were radicalised not at home, at school or in their mosques but, largely it seems, in their bedrooms through social media.

It shows how extremist groups have developed an increasing sophistication in using all the communication channels open to them and in crafting messages to appeal to impressionable minds not just in the UK, but around the world. We will fail to defeat this evil, as Baroness Warsi warned, if all we do is try to block their websites.

But I profoundly disagree with those who claim that we are inevitably fighting a losing battle. Success depends upon harnessing the positive forces of mosques, schools, madrassas and social media to create a new generation of young people who learn how our great faiths are bound together by the values they share.

It is ignorance that is the true weapon of mass destruction. It is ignorance which allows the prejudice, fear and hatred peddled by extremist voices to have such a terrible result.

This is why I believe that improving education so that all young people, wherever they are in the world, understand and respect differences must be the foundation of all our efforts both in the UK and internationally. If ignorance is the problem then education must be the answer.

For respect goes beyond mere tolerance. When we tolerate a situation or a person it means that there is something negative that we are prepared to accept. It is encouraging mutual respect which must be our ambition.

No one is born hating. But once prejudice and hatred are learnt, they are very difficult to root out. Long-term success depends upon shaping a new generation with the right compass. It requires us to plant a healthier seed in the ground for an even healthier harvest in later life.

This has been the goal of the Maimonides Interfaith Foundation for the last two decades. It is at the heart of our flagship Interfaith Explorers programme now being rolled out in primary schools across the country. The programme, which is supported by UNESCO, gives children the information and tools that allows them to embrace our differences as well as our similarities.

In a world in which radicalisation is endemic, Governments, UNESCO and the United Nations – together with all of us working to counter this threat – must urgently step up efforts to encourage understanding and respect among our young people. It is schools around the world which are at the front-line of this vital battle.

There is, thankfully, very little evidence – and none in this shocking case – that schools in the UK are involved in radicalising young people. But we have been slow in maximising their potential to teach a new generation how much our great religions have in common.

As we are sadly seeing across the world – and as the heart-break of these three East End families is again demonstrating – we will pay a terrible price if we continue to let ignorance over faith divide us.

Register for our next Interfaith Explorers webinar: Faith Sensitive Relationship and Sex Education – how to handle difficult conversations with pupils and parents

Interfaith Explorers logo

Last week saw the publication of the Parliamentary Education Select Committee Report into Sex and Relationship Education (SRE), which advocated for SRE to be renamed ‘Relationship and Sex Education’ (RSE) to emphasis the relationship elements of the subject, alongside it being given statutory status in both primary and secondary schools.

This webinar explores how teachers and schools can approach RSE in faith sensitive ways given the growing cultural and religious diversity of their pupils and school communities. Consequently, this webinar will: 

  • Explore the law and best practice around faith sensitive Relationship and Sex Education in Schools;
  • Consider the pitfalls and risks of leading faith sensitive RSE in schools;
  • Explore how best to facilitate discussions around faith sensitive RSE.

More info and webinar registration.

The Foundation becomes a signatory to Declaration against hate and intolerance

Declaration against hate and intolerance

Following an increasing number of hate crimes and attacks against British and Muslim Jews over recent months, the Foundation along with a number of national interfaith organisations has signed a declaration reaffirming that Jewish and Muslim faith communities contribute to the common good of all people in the UK. Calling on all leaders to unequivocally condemn anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim and xenophobic speech and actions.

Read more…

Paris Charlie Hebdo shooting show that ignorance is the real weapon of mass destruction

Professor David Khalili

Following the atrocities in Paris last week, the Maimonides Interfaith Foundation Chairman, Professor Nasser David Khalili says ‘We now have an opportunity to close ranks and finally challenge those who try to monopolise and distort the great faiths and other ways of life – the common heritage of all humanity’.

Read the full article here.

Register for our next Interfaith Explorers webinar: RE teaching and religious authority!

Interfaith Explorers logo

With the increasing challenges faced when teaching in multi faith and multi ethnic school communities, quality guidance for RE teachers on what constitutes religious authority and where to find safe and accurate information has become crucial. Join our resident RE expert, Claire Clinton, in this 45-minute webinar which will examine:

  • How to avoid the pitfalls and risks when researching information about religions and faith practice in the UK today;
  • Where can teachers go to find credible sources of religious authority;
  • The key principals teachers should use when trying to research / understand the different aspects of religions that are practiced in the UK today;
  • Applying sufficient rigour in resources used in the classroom to safeguard children from ‘extreme’ or incompatible worldviews;
  • Best practice when facilitating discussions about, and integrate the promotion of, British values through teaching RE.

More info and webinar registration.

Foundation Chairman says only true dialogue can address grievances and differences

First Magazine Cover Autumn 2014

On the eve of UK Interfaith Week 2014, Chairman of the Foundation Professor Khalili says ‘only true dialogue can discover what is in our minds, because with true dialogue, grievances and differences of opinion can be heard and amicably solved’. The comments appear in an interview with First Magazine, the international journal aimed at the world’s leadership community.

Read the full article here (PDF, 717kB).

Sign-up to our latest Interfaith Explorers Teachers Workshop on the 13th November!

Interfaith Explorers logo

As part of our ongoing series of free teacher workshops to show how this great learning resource can support RE, PHSE and citizenship delivery in your primary school, come join us at our South London/Wandsworth workshop on Thursday 13th November 2014. Open to all teachers and those with responsibility for RE, PSHE and citizenship education in primary schools, including governors with responsibility for SMSC.

To find out more or to register, email interfaithexplorers@education.co.uk or visit http://interfaithexplorers.com/news/teaching-in-south-london-free-teacher-workshop.