Beliefs, Then and Now
Level 3 History Focus

Introduction to Beliefs, Then and Now

In this module students explore beliefs, particularly religious beliefs, and how these have been expressed across time and culture.  Through the analysis of historical sources, students explore the commonalities between religions and the conflicts that can result from difference of belief.  Students conclude by considering the place of religion in the world today.

All activities in this module are aligned to the Australian Curriculum: History, Years 7 and 8.  (Click here to see the Curriculum Links

The module focuses on developing intercultural understanding through the following learning objectives.  Students will:

This guide provides information about the four activities in this module:

These activities are complementary but can also be used independently.  Each activity is supported with suggested teacher-led introductory and concluding activities.  For the online components students can work individually, in pairs or as small groups.  These activities can also be adapted for use with a smartboard.

Activity 1: Inspiring Words

In this short activity students explore quotations from a variety of holy texts by completing a quiz.  They consider the relevance that the quotations have to them before discovering the religion that the quotation reflects.  They then rewrite the quotes for a contemporary context.

Introductory Activity — Offline

Ask students to brainstorm a list of world religions.  Challenge them to identify the things that are similar to all religions, and some things that may differ.  Use this discussion to pose the question, what is religion?

Online Activity

Before commencing this activity, familiarise your students with how to navigate through the website.

Part A: Ancient religious quotes
Students are asked to rate how much they relate to eight quotations from ancient religious texts.  They are provided with information about the quote after each rating.

Part B: Rewrite the quotes
In this part, students are asked to rewrite, in their own words, each of the quotes to make them meaningful for a contemporary context.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Discuss the following questions with your students:

Activity 2: Births, Deaths and Marriages

This activity involves students in investigating births, deaths and marriages in ancient times through the eyes of a contemporary event planner.

Introductory Activity — Offline

Ask students to identify rituals associated with births, deaths and marriages in Australia today.

Online Activity

Part A: Time travelling event planner
Students are given instructions for their event-planning task.  You can guide your students to select the particular civilisations and time periods that you are focusing on in your classroom, or they can select from a list that reflects options in the year 7 and 8 Australian Curriculum: History.

Students are asked to find their own reference material and research their selected period.  They download and complete an editable PDF form to record their findings or this sheet can be printed and completed by hand.

Students then use the information to plan an event associated with death, birth or marriage for their selected client.  They must download/print and complete the editable PDF Event Planning Sheet.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Ask students to break into three groups, reflecting the type of event they planned, a birth, death, or marriage.

In their groups, students should compare their event running sheets and identify the similarities and differences between the events, regardless of the culture or time period they represent.  Students should discuss:

As a class discuss and identify universal beliefs and values that transcend culture and time.

Activity 3: Jerusalem

In this topic students explore why Jerusalem is significant to Jews, Christians and Muslims and why there has been so much conflict about it over many years.  Students do this by analysing historic source material.

Introductory Activity — Offline

Identify Jerusalem on a map and as a class, brainstorm any facts and information about Jerusalem that students are aware of.  Create a class mind map.

Online Activity

Part A: Jerusalem timeline
Students read an introduction and look at a basic timeline, which gives an overview of the different groups who have ruled over Jerusalem.

Part B: Analyse the sources
Students are asked to view and analyse nine primary and secondary sources about Jerusalem from different times and perspectives.  Students should consider them in relation to the timeline to understand them more fully.  Students also watch a video, where a rabbi and imam reflect on Jerusalem and negotiating their friendship despite their differing perspectives.

Concluding Activity — Offline

Working in pairs or groups, ask students to use the Question Starts activity to generate questions about the conflict in Jerusalem.  They use the following question starts:

How would it be different if...?
What are the reasons...?
Suppose that...?
What if...?
What if we knew...?
What is the purpose of...?
What would change if...?
Once students have created questions select some for a class list.  Challenge students to reflect on and or research answers to one or more of the questions.


Activity 4: What Relevance Does Religion Have Today?

In this activity students explore the place of religion in the world today.

Introductory Activity — Offline

Ask students to work in groups to complete a T-chart identifying some of the advantages and disadvantages of religious belief.

Online Activity

Part A: Reflect on religion today
Students are asked four multiple-choice questions relating to religious practice in Australia today.  They are given the correct answer after each question.

They are then asked to watch three videos of an atheist, a Christian and a Jew reflecting on the relevance of religion today before themselves reflecting on this issue.

Concluding Activity — Offline

(There is no Concluding Activity for Activity 4.)

Module Reflection

You may like to use a reflection or self-assessment strategy to monitor student engagement with this module.

Further Activity Ideas