The Big Frieze
The reason for Understanding Christianity:
To support pupils in developing their understanding of Christianity, as a contribution to their understanding of the world and their own experience within it.
Aims of Understanding Christianity
To enable pupils to know about and understand Christianity as a living world faith, by exploring core theological concepts
To enable pupils to develop knowledge and skills in making sense of biblical texts and understanding their impact in the lives of Christians
To develop pupils’ abilities to connect, critically reflect upon, evaluate and apply their learning to their own growing understanding of Christianity, of religion and belief more widely, of themselves, the world and human experience.
What is being taught?
There are eight concepts selected by Understanding Christianity because they offer a coherent series of ideas that underpin Christian belief and practice. The ‘big story’ gives a context into which teachers and pupils can place the concepts as they encounter them in RE throughout the school.
Pupils encounter concepts several times as part of a spiral curriculum – each encounter uses different key questions, texts and approaches. Understanding is reinforced and deepened through these on-going encounters. These concepts represent one way to make sense of Christian belief and practice. The brief version is necessarily simplified, and there are other ways of understanding Christian teaching. Many Christians might prefer not to relegate the position of Jesus to being a mere ‘solution’ to the problem of sin, and argue that Jesus’ incarnation represents the boundless love of the Creator seeking the best for human beings, regardless of the cost. The resources indicate some areas of disagreement and diversity. Through these concepts, pupils encounter a range of biblical texts, placed within a wider theological context. They consider the nature of God and what it means for Christians to be in relationship with the Creator. They explore Christian understanding of the relationship between God and his people in the Old Testament, and make sense of messianic expectations and Christian belief in their fulfilment in Jesus. Pupils explore the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus, within this wider historical and theological context. They consider the present and future aspects of the Kingdom of God. Pupils examine the impact of these beliefs and their outworking in the lives of Christians, through (for example) celebrations, festivals, rituals, creative and spiritual expression, actions and activism, expressions of love and compassion, calls for justice and ethical responses.
The Frieze and the concept of the ‘big story’
The frieze illustrates seven of the eight core concepts that are explored throughout the Understanding Christianity materials. Effectively, this presents a view of the ‘big story’ of the Bible – an artist’s response to the approach used in the Understanding Christianity materials. The Big Frieze is designed to give teachers the opportunity to make pupils aware of the wider context of each concept, unit and text studied in the Understanding Christianity materials. Reminding pupils regularly of where a particular text occurs within the ‘big story’, by pointing it out on the Frieze, helps to build up a coherent understanding of the core concepts and the relationship between them. The artwork illustrates these concepts, from Creation to Kingdom of God, presenting a Christian view of the Bible as more than a collection of different texts – one which has an overarching coherence and story.