A lot of people assume RS is just a study of a few different religions, maybe the differences between them or the practises which may be involved in them. In actuality, it’s far from this. RS is about understanding everything from human nature, to how we should live our lives, to how and why the universe was created. It answers all the big questions, tying them together with both religious and secular ideas. A big part of this is ethics and philosophy. I think the best part of philosophy is how everything flows together, meaning you can jump between ideas and link them together, using them to answer part of a bigger picture or to focus on a finer detail; another thing is how easily and frequently it applies to everyday life. Every time you make a decision, it can be regarded as morally right or wrong, and which one of these it is classed as is down to philosophy.
However, just because this subject covers such large and important questions, finding out about it doesn’t have to be so daunting. There have been many great books about philosophy and RS, and a large portion of these are actually fiction.
One such book which is particularly enjoyable, as well as being approachable, is ‘Sophie’s World’ by Jostein Gaarder. This book follows the story of 14-year-old Sophie Amundsen, and a philosopher, Alberto Knox, who’s mission is to teach Sophie about the history of philosophy. This book is great for understanding the development of philosophical ideas over the course of history, and also has an enticing, yet philosophical, plot.
Another similar read is ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ series, a four-book series by Douglas Adams. These books combine science, mathematics, technology and philosophy into an incredible yet informative story about a man called Arthur Dent, who is caught up in a complex series of events and a bizarre journey through the universe.
One of my favourite philosophical fiction books is one I read recently from the school library, called “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” by Muriel Barbery. It tells the unique story of three very different people from very different backgrounds: the middle-aged concierge of a large apartment building, Renée; a twelve-year-old girl, who lives in the building, called Paloma, and a resident who newly moves in, Kakuro. They all share a passion for philosophy, art, literature and culture, but for different reasons, have kept this secret. The book is a brilliant collection of Paloma’s “Profound Thoughts” and of Renée’s quest to keep her intelligence under wraps. It has both an amazing plot and an abundance of important thoughts and questions. Reading books such as these is a brilliant way to gain an understanding of philosophical questions, without necessarily having to tackle heavier non-fiction works.
The skills you learn in RS are unique to those learnt in many other subjects, because they can be applied not only to everyday life, but to other areas within school. RS teaches you about problem solving, logical thinking, and how to give clear and developed arguments to a statement or question. It allows you to be evaluative and creative. It contributes greatly to writing skills; RS is very beneficial when it comes to forming solid, persuasive answers. Debating issues in lessons is brilliant for confidence building, teamworking skills, leadership and communication. Above all, RS is an opportunity to be incredibly passionate, whether it be about an event, a belief or an ethical issue.
RS is, without a doubt, one of my favourite subjects, because there are always opportunities to get involved and to voice your thoughts, each lesson brings something new, exciting and different, introducing you to new cultures and ideas which can literally change your life – and not least because of the amazing RS teachers at our school.
There really is something to love for everyone when it comes to RS: and for many people, like me, that’s basically just all of it.
By Nishi, Year 9