Home.About Us.E-Publications.Free Stuff.Contact.Courses.SFE Books.Videos.

© 2011 Sue Phillips

Created by M.Stillman

Courses are offered on a variety of topics tailor made to  suit each  audience  and course structure. The most frequently presented one is


 Introducing The Theatre of Learning

· Begins with a photographic tour of lessons on all traditions introducing the five techniques.

· It introduces the learning model for Theatre of Learning produced in 2008

· It  Introduces “The Island”, a basic concept building activity used now throughout the UK and included in the Hampshire Handbook as a recommended starting point for year seven pupils.

· Teachers take part in religion neutral activities from  Christianity and Judaism as examples for developing spirituality , empathy and  academic understanding which can be applied to any tradition.

· Techniques to develop literacy and assessment for learning are used throughout the day.


A number of centres have made Theatre of Learning an annual event  and have  chosen follow up courses based on the following, either devoting a whole day to one topic or combining two




Teaching  Christianity with The Theatre of Learning

The problem for teachers teaching Christianity is that it is so theological. It is the struggle to make Christianity make sense that turns  children and teachers off,  making it a real challenge to enthuse and motivate young people. This course  uses the pupils’ own experience  through religion neutral exercises to help them empathise with  what Christians feel  at prayer and worship in their special place and to understand the abstract concepts  that lie behind Christianity. These active, experiential lessons  are designed to intersperse a traditional course bringing the whole experience alive and making Christianity make sense.

· A framework for teaching Christianity

· A religion neutral exercise for teaching about the prayer and Eucharist

· Using special circles to make  worship make sense

· Understanding church leaders – helps pupils make sense of Protestant and Catholic view points

· Spontaneous and liturgical worship helps pupils understand and appreciate various styles of worship and how they make Christians feel.

· A re enactment of the Easter midnight candlelight service in an Orthodox church .

· Teaching about Religious Experience   a religion neutral experience based on the story of Bernadette and Lourdes provides a basis for future work on the philosophy of religion.


Teaching Judaism with the Theatre of Learning

· A framework for teaching Judaism

· Creating a synagogue in the classroom and re enacting a synagogue service (Orthodox and Reform)

· An religion neutral exercise to teach Jewish Prayer

· A Jewish Wedding

· Kashrut and Shabbat

· A photographic tour of the festivals taught actively

· Two practical examples, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur


 Teaching Abstract Concepts and Philosophical Issues

· How Religion May Have Begun:  -  The origin of belief in life after death and hunting magic

· The Cave: – experiential activity which promotes understanding  of how humans moved from animism to monotheism – creates a conceptual  foundation for understanding religion.

· Science And Religion:  - How the Eastern concepts of “Nothing is created or destroyed”,  “Reality is an illusion”  and “All things are one” are supported by modern quantum physics – teaching pupils about the nature of reality and consciousness by creating an atom in the classroom and making a table “disappear” creates a concrete platform to make religion make  intellectual sense  in the 21st century

· Teaching About Life After Death – can the mind separate from the body ?

·  The Big Bang,:The  theory of the pulsating universe and the anthropic principle  use modern physics to  make the idea of creation make sense

·  The Atman:  Using quantum physics to make sense of Eastern spirituality – teaching the concept of the Atman in a multi sensory , experiential way to lay an intellectual foundation for understanding Hinduism

· Making  Hindu Worship Of Images Make Sense through a religion neutral exercise and relating this to all that has been learned today from animism to monotheism and quantum physics to Make RE Make Sense


New in  2005: Teaching Islam with the Theatre of Learning  - first presented at Manchester Metropolitan University  with Imam, Irfan Chishti.

It is not appropriate to re  enact Muslim prayer or any other Muslim rituals or aspect of worship. The secret is to intersperse traditional lessons on Islam with a series of religion neutral exercises that help the specific lessons  make sense. These enable the children to empathise with Muslim spirituality, and combat Islamophobia.

· Principles for  teaching Islam experientially

· A Religion neutral exercise to help pupils understand the spirituality of Muslim prayer.

· Creating a mosque in the classroom

· Introducing the Qur’an

· The message – a religion neutral story to help pupils empathise with the story of Mohammad

·  A Religion neutral exercise on pilgrimage

· Challenging stereotypes and dealing with Islamophobia

· Literacy exercises


A Day on Indian Spirituality

Teachers often confine themselves to description and content in teaching the Indian  traditions. Pupils enjoy the  novelty, but because of cultural barriers, often fail to appreciate their inspirational, abstract monotheism and spiritual view of the universe. This course enables teachers  to present the traditions in a way in which  every child can “learn from”, its own distinctive  spirituality  while developing their own, whatever their own religious background.


The day contains highlights from the following

Teaching Hinduism with the Theatre of Learning

· Framework for teaching Indian religions

· Framework for teaching Hinduism

· The Atman

· A religion neutral exercise to understand how worship affects Hindus

· Worship and meditation

· Hindu Wedding


 Teaching Buddhism with the Theatre of Learning

· Framework for teaching Buddhism

· The Secret Empire – a science fiction story to aid appreciation of the life of  Siddartha  Gautama

·  An experiential approach to The Four Noble Truths

· A religion neutral activity to help pupils appreciate the notion of  Impermanence  

· Monks and the Sangha

· Awareness and Walking meditation

·  Presenting the abstract ideas of Tao and Zen

· Literacy exercises


 Teaching Sikhism with the Theatre of Learning

· Framework for teaching Sikhism

· A religion neutral exercise for teaching about Sikh spirituality

· Creating an ideal community

· Creating a Gurdwara  in the classroom

· Re enacting Sikh initiation

· Re enacting a Sikh wedding


“After lessons like these I feel I can go into any family in the world and understand what their ceremonies mean to them even if I don’t know what they are doing”   Renata, aged 16

I am an atheist but lessons like these help me understand where they (believers ) are coming from”   Boy  aged 16

In my other subjects I don’t remember a thing, unless I revise it from a book later, but these lessons are a part of your life, a memory, because they are experiential. You never forget them”.  Joe, 16, a  very able student



New work on Citizenship and Values Education

So often we are forced to deliver facts and statistics which have little impact on pupils attitudes or behaviour. The five techniques of the Theatre of Learning, adapted  to teach values across the curriculum, emphasise the use of the imagination and the development of emotional literacy to produce high impact lessons that transform pupils attitudes to themselves, others and the environment


Teaching about  Poverty and Racism ( half day)

They should just get on their bikes and get a job”

“Why don’t they just  go back where they came from”

The problem about teaching these topics as part of a GCSE syllabus is that the preparation for the exam and the learning of Biblical stories can mean that pupils miss the point and remain unaffected.

Role play , re enactment  and visualisation within specially created sets take the pupils into the experience to  ask “what if it were me?”

Experiential activities to teach about global poverty

· Carpark in Calcutta

· Cardboard city

· Experiential activities to teach about race, discrimination and refugees

· Invasion

· The Experiment


“I felt I was listening to a woman who actually lived this life. This changed how I felt before because I always knew poverty as figures, rather than people. I imagined myself in her position and it disturbed me to think people lived like this. It made me want to help”

Abbie aged 16



(See article on using the imagination to  teaching social justice  “RE Today” spring 2005  for more details about activities on this course)



New in  2006:Teaching Citizenship  across the curriculum – first presented in Sydney in August 2006 to teachers from all subject areas and phases

· Techniques and activities to surprise, shock and engage  which change pupils attitudes and develop positive behaviour

· All actions have consequences – techniques for teaching about personal morality, smoking, drugs, alcohol , healthy eating and crime.

· Human rights.

· Water.

· The Environment .

· Poverty.

· Race discrimination and refugees.


New for 2007 :Teaching Tolerance

A new course  designed to meet a pressing need for our time as pupils  display resentment towards Muslims and Polish immigrants in particular. These activities  challenge  pupils’ attitudes towards others through a combination of reason and emotion as they  explore through party games, what is normal and what is different,  why toleration is important and where its limits are.


The second half of the course uses practical exercises, stories and visualisation to enable pupils to ask “what if it were me ?” as they re think their attitude toward refugees and asylum seekers, gay people, Muslims and the new Europeans.