Many teachers, including RE specialists, lack confidence when it comes to teaching about Islam, research by the National Association of Teachers of Religious Education (NATRE) has revealed. To help address the issue and improve the understanding and representation of Islam and Muslims, RE Today has created a new cross-phase teaching resource: Picturing Islam, Picturing Muslims.
According to an online poll conducted in May 2020, 25 percent of primary and secondary teachers said they were ‘not very confident’, ‘not confident at all, or ‘not sure’ when asked about their views on teaching about Islam. The poll echoes a 2018 survey of primary teachers, which found that only 52 percent felt confident teaching about Islam, compared with 95 percent who were assured about teaching Christianity.
The studies also reflect a lack of understanding about Islam in wider society. A report by Ipsos Mori in 2018 reported that 57 percent of the British public did not feel that they had much knowledge or understanding of Islam, and that misconceptions are often widespread. At its conference last year, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers raised concerns about parents withdrawing their children from lessons on Islam.
RE Today’s new teaching resource ‘Picturing Islam, Picturing Muslims’ features 24 picture cards and 72 learning activities and lesson ideas, connecting central Muslim concepts and ways of living. Created by RE subject experts, it explores both British and global Islam, and includes well-known Muslims who are in the public eye, such as footballer Mo Salah; Mayor of London, Sadiq Kahn; and chef author and TV presenter, Nadiya Hussain MBE.
Dr Matthew Vince, Research Associate from Cardiff University’s Centre for the Study of Islam, who is leading a research project into teachers’ experience of teaching about Islam and Muslims, said, “Islam has been particularly vulnerable to misrepresentation and stereotypes in the media and, sometimes, in classrooms. Often these portrayals focus on theology and belief at the expense of their plural and everyday expressions of religion in society. It’s important that the teaching of Islam includes the experience of individuals and communities.”
National RE Advisor for RE Today, Lat Blaylock, said: “Picturing Islam, Picturing Muslims shows the faith as it is practised in everyday life through powerful images of Muslim people, their practices, history, and origins. It challenges the limited representation of ‘textbook’ Islam and shows its rich diversity through the current reality of how Muslims live. It is a powerful resource that has the potential to counter misconceptions and misrepresentation of Islam that is unfortunately so common.”
Picturing Islam costs £45 and is available in hard copy, with online access to image cards and additional resources, at: