The 24 Dispositions

Children’s learning in this syllabus of religious education is guided by encouraging 24 dispositions, which all the major faiths saw as particularly important. Taken together, the dispositions constitute a person’s spiritual and moral character and help to depict a human ideal. The emphasis is firstly on ‘learning from faith’ because religious practices, sacred scriptures, ethics, institutions, art, music etc. were all originally devised to serve the human ideal. To benefit fully from the religious resource. Secondly, requires in-depth ‘learning about religious traditions’, which assists in the formation of pupils' judgement.

Being Imaginative and Explorative

This disposition requires lateral thinking, the capacity to see things differently, together with the capacity to see the promise and potential of the world about us in order to act well.

Religiously, it means giving due regard to, or seeking out, what is sacred and to explore, for example, what it may mean to be made in the image of the Creator or to investigate the idea of a promised land.

Appreciating Beauty

This disposition requires a deep sensitivity for the world about us, an awareness of the nature of human responses, and the capacity to make qualitative distinctions in one's actions.

Religiously, it is an awareness that in the world there is a qualitative dimension (which is thought to be given and which is indicative of transcendence i.e. it is not wholly subjective). This dimension normally evokes the human response of respect and reverence. The recognition of an aesthetic dimension in the world is made manifest by human beings through their own works of aesthetic creativity.

Expressing Joy

This disposition requires an awareness of human affective responses, in particular, that of happiness, and mastering certain expressive capacities, for example, in music, in language, in body language to share these affections with others.

Religiously, it is an acknowledgement of, and a response of life itself to, transcendence in which human beings find their fulfilment, employing music etc.

Being Thankful

This disposition requires an awareness in one's actions of relationships of dependence and of not being wholly self-sufficient and in control of our own well-being. It requires a willingness and expressive capacity to acknowledge that relationship of dependence and the good that flows from it.

Religiously, it is the awareness of being dependent on the transcendent and it is the response to the sense that, in the light of this relationship, all will be well no matter how things go.

Caring for Others, Animals and the Environment

This disposition requires an awareness of the needs of others (and other things), a feeling that these needs matter, and the will to do something about them.

Religiously, it is the sense that this is not a matter of self-interest but a divine duty laid upon human beings.

Sharing and Being Generous

This disposition arises out of an awareness that others may be dependent on us, the sense of wholeness that may come from our relationships with others, and the will to please others.

Religiously, it is the unity of creation in which the needs and joy of others are the needs and joy of the self. It is because the transcendent gives liberally that humans are impelled to do likewise. 

Being Regardful of Suffering

This disposition arises out of the affective capacity for pity, as well as out of an attention to the situation and condition of the other and the will to help or to maintain one's solidarity with the other.

Religiously, the sense of the unity of all things leads to an attention to pain and suffering so that what is endured by another is felt by the self. This unity is such that the pain and suffering touches the very core of the transcendent.

Being Merciful and Forgiving

This disposition presupposes the recognition that the unity and solidarity that exist between all people and all things are readily broken through aesthetic and moral offence. It also presupposes an acknowledgement of offence once committed and a desire for the re-establishment of unity, together with the will to bring it about despite the cost it may entail.

Religiously, there is the possibility of spiritual offence that goes beyond aesthetic and moral offence. The desire for re-union is often accompanied by an awareness of the powerlessness to bring it about. Restitution of the social and universal solidarity therefore rests on an initiating Divine mercy and a responsive human mercy and forgiveness.

Being Fair and Just

This disposition depends on a recognition of the claims of equity and of consistent reasoning, together with the will always to restore and to maintain the state of equity.

Religiously, equity is the beginning and end of a harmonious creation. Human beings are, therefore, bound to maintain and restore this original equity.

Living by Rules

This disposition presupposes that the world behaves in law-like ways and that the society on which we depend requires rules for its very functioning. Whilst it is acknowledged that the rules of nature are given (heteronomy), it is supposed that 1.the rules of society are collectively agreed and therefore binding, and 2. the rules of personal behaviour are self-imposed (autonomy). A law-abiding disposition depends on the will to live the ordered life.

Religiously, the rules that truly matter are neither heteronomous nor autonomous. They are the order and sense of our own nature and that of our world, being in effect 'God-given'.

Being Accountable and Living with Integrity

This disposition is the capacity and willingness to be answerable for one's actions, formally and informally, to others and to oneself. Integrity presupposes that one would always act in such a responsible way even if one could, or would, not be held publicly to account.

Religiously, the answerability of human beings is given a more radical turn since from the perspective of transcendence everything is transparent and no motives are hidden. The answerability to God is, therefore, deeper and more profound.

Being Temperate, Exercising Self-Discipline and Cultivating Serene Contentment

This disposition requires a good deal of self-knowledge and a mastery of the affections to ensure these affections in response to our world and the actions of others are proportionate and subject to reason.

Religiously, the unity of creation demands a deep sympathy for others and for other things, but before God, a selflessness permits an acceptance of all things no matter how things go. 

Being Modest and Listening to Others

This disposition presupposes self-knowledge and an understanding of others, together with a capacity to evaluate what each one can contribute to cultural (i.e. the world created by human beings) life. As such, it avoids false modesty on the one hand, and boastfulness on the other.

Religiously, by developing the skill of attentiveness and by de-centring from the self, it is possible to relate to the divine and to enter into a proper relationship with others.

Cultivating Inclusion, Identity and Belonging

This disposition recognises that human beings are never isolated selves but exist, and can thrive, only in relation to others, i.e. in community. This ranges from the intimate relation of two people to the relationships that constitute families, groups, civic communities, nations and world. Deliberate exclusion of another prevents the other (and, indeed, the self) from developing relationships through which they can thrive.

Religiously, a relationship to the transcendent prevents the creation of barriers since God is the God of all. Instead it promotes an 'ecological' vision of the interrelationship and interdependence of all people and all things.

Creating Unity and Harmony

This disposition recognises that different people/creatures have different interests, needs and capacities, and as such they can also frustrate one another and cause aesthetic, moral and religious offence. The disposition requires the desire and skill to restore relationships.

Religiously, the restoration is achieved through taking thought, and through processes of repentance, forgiveness and redemption.

Participating and Willing to Lead

This disposition presupposes a self-knowledge and an appreciation of what one can, and must, contribute to collective life, together with a willingness to be proactive in this.

Religiously, being a single individual before God, that is to say, being responsible to the Creator of all, implies a relationship and responsibility for the well-being of all.

Remembering Roots

This disposition recognises how the past, through its realities and promise, can shape the present and the future. It notes what the possibilities of human life have been, and hence what defines human life in the present and for the future, i.e. they define human duties, obligations and opportunities.

Religiously, from the perspective of eternity, all human beings become contemporaries and belong together to a single community.

Being Loyal and Steadfast

This disposition presupposes an understanding of the needs of others and a willingness to offer them support in the face of opposition and destructive powers.

Religiously, a confidence in the transcendent implies a resistance to the wickedness that subverts the unity of community and the world.

Being Hopeful and Visionary

This disposition might reasonably be linked to being imaginative and explorative. The attitudes of expectation and anticipation are fundamental to all major forms of religious life and contrast sharply with the mood of despair. The disposition of being hopeful should be distinguished from being fatalistic, in which everything is already determined, on the one hand, and be distinguished from a reliance on 'luck', in which people depend on chance, on the other hand.

Religiously, hope is based on the promise offered by transcendence and the power of providence to transform realities.

Being Courageous and Confident

This disposition should be contrasted with foolhardiness, on the one hand, and with cowardice, on the other. It requires a clear understanding of situations, coupled with selflessness and a commitment to the good and well-being of others.

Religiously, it is a confidence in the transcendent in which the good person understands that s/he can come to no harm no matter what happens to her/him.

Being Curious and Valuing Knowledge

This disposition arises out of a fundamental human interest, in which knowledge is valued for its own sake. Affectively, it involves a love for others and other things, just as they are, and in all their complexity. This should be linked to a determined will to discover this strange complexity.

Religiously, to love and come to understand creation is to love and understand the Creator. These are ends in themselves.

Being Open, Honest and Truthful

This disposition presupposes an understanding of others as ends in themselves and, therefore, not to be manipulated or used without their agreement. An affection for the truth and the well-being of others underwrites the desire for a clarity of meaning in any communication.

Religiously, one can relate to the transcendent only on the basis of being utterly truthful and transparent. Just as deception hides the truth from others, so deception obscures any sense of the transcendent.

Being Reflective and Self-Critical

This disposition presupposes a consciousness of the confusions of motives and the attractions and comforts of many fictions. It requires a will to eschew such comforts as false consolations and a determination to be clear about what is the case and to evaluate rightly.

Religiously, to exist before God is to anticipate the purity of understanding and the transparency of motives.

Being Silent and Attentive to, and Cultivating a Sense for, the Sacred and Transcendence

This disposition understands that through language and concepts human beings impose their own structures on the realities that confront them. This imposition secularises the realities and renders them amenable to human domination.

Attentive silence is enabling the realities to 'speak' for themselves.

Religiously, silence is a traditional method of allowing the transcendent and sacred to present itself.

Developing Creativity

(How should we imagine and express what matters?)

  • Being Imaginative and Explorative
  • Appreciating Beauty
  • Expressing Joy
  • Being Thankful

Developing Compassion

(How and why should we care?)

  • Caring for Others, Animals and the Environment
  • Sharing and Being Generous
  • Being Regardful of Suffering
  • Being Merciful and Forgiving

Developing Choice

(What should we stand for?)

  • Being Fair and Just
  • Living by Rules
  • Being Accountable and Living with Integrity
  • Being Temperate, Exercising Self-Discipline and Cultivating Serene Contentment

Developing Community

(How and where should we contribute and relate to others?)

  • Being Modest and Listening to Others
  • Cultivating Inclusion, Identity and Belonging
  • Creating Unity and Harmony
  • Participating and Willing to Lead

Developing Commitment

(What ventures should we undertake?)

  • Remembering Roots
  • Being Loyal and Steadfast
  • Being Hopeful and Visionary
  • Being Courageous and Confident

Developing Contemplation

(How do we come to understand what matters?)

  • Being Curious and Valuing Knowledge
  • Being Open, Honest and Truthful
  • Being Reflective and Self-Critical
  • Being Silent and Attentive to, and Cultivating a Sense for, the Sacred and Transcendence
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