Philosophy, Ethics & Theology is a great subject to help you build a wide range of skills, including improving your skills as a writer, speaker and thinker.
It's a great idea to practice and develop Philosophy, Ethics & Theology skills at home. You can read, watch and listen to interesting ideas and think about the opinions expressed. How far do they match your own views? What might someone say if they had a very different opinion? Keep up your writing skills by putting your ideas down on paper – try, if you can, to hand write, just to keep up the practice of handwriting so that your writing isn’t completely illegible by the time you go back to school.
Reading good quality writing is the best way of improving your own writing. As you read a good writer, you will gain a better understanding of the meanings of new words and the ways in which carefully chosen words and punctuation can add real emphasis to someone’s argument. Different writers express themselves in different ways, and by reading them you will develop your own ‘voice’. Reading also helps with more basic skills such as spelling, because if you see a word written down often enough, you will know when it ‘looks right’ when you write the same word yourself.
Thinking skills can be developed if you try to take a questioning attitude to the things you watch, hear and read. Do you agree with what’s being said? If you watch a film where people have different attitudes towards something, which do you agree with most, or least, and why?
Here are some different activities and exercises for you try if you’re learning from home. In Philosophy, Ethics & Theology, some of the topics can be quite sensitive, so if the activity involves an issue that might make you upset, choose a different one. These times are already difficult enough; nobody wants you to be upset when there’s no teacher there to talk you through your feelings.
Here are some books and some online resources you could try, if you can get hold of them. Don’t worry if they’re not available or you can’t get on the computer for very long – you won’t be at a disadvantage. Reading anything of good quality, even if it’s a novel or a book about an entirely different topic, is always helpful for improving your skills, because you are practising your comprehension skills as well as practising understanding different ways in which writers express their ideas. Your own writing will improve, the more you read. These are just some ideas – you don’t have to choose any of these if you’d rather read something else, and there are so many good books in the world that this list could go on forever but it’s a start:
Critical thinking skills
Here are a couple of activities to try, to start you off, and then a selection of other directions you might like to take:
Activity 1. This is the first episode of a documentary about attitudes towards homosexuality.
This is the first episode of Stephen Fry’s series ‘Out There’, where he explores attitudes to homosexuality in different parts of the world.
Questions to think about and/or write about – try to support your answers with reasoning:
Activity 2: Watch this documentary, ‘Barra Boy’
4. Do you find these stories convincing? Why, or why not?
5. Do you think the stories contradict each other, or are they just told from different points of view, in your opinion? What might account for the differences and the similarities between the stories?
Now some books to help develop your thinking skills:
These suggestions are only a few of the very many available, so don’t worry if you can’t get hold of these specific titles.
Some additional online resources:
Some things to watch and think about:
All kinds of films and series have philosophical, ethical and religious ideas in them, so follow your own interests! You could try these, or choose something else, but try and use them as a stimulus for thinking and writing, rather than just sitting in front of them:
There are loads of talks on here, so use the search engine to find topics that interest you. Practice note-taking; write notes as you listen, just as you would if you were listening to a real-life lecture, and practice the skill of jotting down key points at speed. Ask yourself questions when you get to the end: what were the speaker’s key messages? Do you agree with the speaker? What might someone who disagreed say, and what might their reasons be?
There are all kinds of resources on line and in books to help you, if you want to start to learn a little more about some of the philosophers you will meet in you're a level course. Use Wikipedia as a starting point and follow some of the links in the articles. You could do some research about:
Practice using a range of sources to find out about a single person. When you have gathered together a range of information, try and synthesise it into a single piece of writing of your own.
The BBC has some great podcasts available: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01f0vzr (They are quite long and heavy-weight; don’t worry if this activity isn’t for you)
Practice your note-making skills by pausing and writing a summary of what you’ve heard so far. Think about whether you agree with what the philosopher is saying.
Listen to whatever takes your interest. For Philosophy, Ethics & Theology specifically, you could concentrate on the ones starred, and/or move onto others from this list: