Revd Dr James Walters, LSE Chaplain and Faith Adviser, blogs about his visit to local primary schools alongwith ten LSE students to talk to school children about different faiths and beliefs during the Interfaith Week 2011.
If university lecturers think they have a hard time holding attention and sustaining the interest of their audience, I always feel they ought to try taking a primary school assembly. Standing up in front of a hall full of under-11 year olds requires some courage and skill. So it is to their credit that 10 of our students, representing the different LSESU faith societies, did exactly that as part of a programme of events to mark this year’s Interfaith Week (20-26 November).
Religious diversity is a growing feature of the LSE student body and Interfaith Week is an opportunity both to celebrate our difference and also engage with one another in the fundamental questions of truth and meaning that are at the heart of the world religions. The LSE is a place where that kind of respectful conversation can take place. But that’s not always the case in wider society where children are sometimes growing up with a sense of suspicion with different beliefs and practices.
That’s why we decided to reach out to local schools, St Clement Danes on Drury Lane and St George the Martyr on Holborn, both of which have a diverse religious make-up. We presented to school assemblies about objects used to aid prayer in the different faiths and led discussion with the children on differing understandings of God. The children asked very thoughtful questions and showed a genuine fascination with other people’s beliefs. In the case of some minority religions, the children were really enthused by the fact that an older person from a prestigious university was there representing their faith as both an advocate and role model.
Many thanks to all the students who took part: Tasif Zaman, Hannah Geis, Catalina Geib, Chirag Shah, Pradyumn Kothari, Sharafath Khandoker, Oren Garonzik, Desiree Sim, Gaurev Srivastava and Victoria Desmond. We’ll be going back next year!
Revd Dr James Walters is the Chaplain and Faith Adviser at LSE. He provides pastoral support to any student or member of staff who seeks it and supports religious life and cohesion within the wider LSE community. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org