This paper examines the teaching modes employed, and the cognitive demands made on pupils, during eighteen religious education (RE) lessons given by three teachers in one school; and analyses verbal transactions, written and practical tasks. If one accepts the crude but useful hierarchical categorization of thought into data, concept and abstraction then, in theory, it would be possible to teach history at the first level, at least to GCE standard. The purpose of school is to help pupils to learn. Learning is not the acquisition of facts alone, but the ability to collect facts, to sequence them, to observe or perceive relationships, to ask questions, to construct hypotheses, to sift and evaluate evidence, to conduct experiments, to draw conclusions and acquire and apply skills. Pupil responses help both to indicate how pupils interpret teacher expectations and also to act as a barometer of the thinking level at which pupils are functioning.