Long gone are the days when boys tracked St Paul’s missionary journeys in a dilapidated biblical atlas and then went on to ‘learn’ a gospel.
Divinity or Religious Studies has changed. It is flourishing nationally and the same is true at Tonbridge. Today it promotes critical thought and introduces ‘big’ questions of meaning and value which philosophers and theologians have wrestled with for centuries. Not only does this provide an excellent intellectual training but it forces boys to think about themselves and the world around them.
All boys study Religious Studies in the Novi and two main areas are covered – an introduction to philosophical and theological questions and an introduction to ethical thinking. Within the course of a year boys will consider questions such as ‘What makes a person?’ and ‘Can terrorism ever be justified?’ Boys are given open-ended questions to debate in class and on paper for prep and this contribute positively to their general intellectual development.
IGCSE Religious Studies is offered as an option and boys studying it follow Edexcel’s IGCSE in Religious Studies covering philosophy and ethics. This is proving an increasingly popular choice and covers issues ranging from medical ethics to the problem of evil.
In the Sixth Form boys many boys opt for Pre-U Philosophy and Theology. The course introduces ‘big’ questions in both disciplines ranging from the issue of free will to faith and reason. After an introductory paper, boys specialize in both Ethics and New Testament theology. There is a focus on key texts from JS Mill and Sartre and the four gospels. Boys relish the intellectual challenge the course offers and find it prepares them well for university.
A distinctive feature of the department is that it produces its own textbooks / work books for all years.
BA, University of Exeter
BA, King's College, London
MA, Regent's Park College, Oxford