Author Topic: Welsh schools to teach humanism alongside religions in religious education  (Read 323 times)

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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Welsh Government to change law on school RE to include humanism

The Welsh Government has today announced its plans to amend the law on religious education (RE) to include the non-religious worldview of humanism for the first time, on an equal footing to major religions.

Humanists UK, which has led the campaign for this change, has hailed the decision as a great advance for children and families in Wales that will make education about religious and non-religious worldviews in their schools the most inclusive in the UK.

In its White Paper published today, the Government says it plans to amend the law in two areas: firstly on the RE curriculum and secondly on membership of agreed syllabus conferences (ASCs) and  standing advisory councils on RE (SACREs), the bodies that set and oversee the RE syllabus in most schools. It recommended that instead of referring only to religion in these areas, the law should say that non-religious beliefs such as humanism must also be included.

Opinions on this?

Online Harry Black

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I think it would be better if they didnt teach about religions at all in school, outside of their impact on history.
They dont teach a list of quack medicines afterall.

But if they must then its better to mention humanism than to not mention it.
Maybe it would have helped me overcome my 'atheists are assholes' impression I had at school age.

Offline JohnM

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I think it would be better if they didnt teach about religions at all in school, outside of their impact on history.
They dont teach a list of quack medicines afterall.

But if they must then its better to mention humanism than to not mention it.
Maybe it would have helped me overcome my 'atheists are assholes' impression I had at school age.

I think it helps to teach religion as a way of learning about different cultures. Britain is culturally Christian so it can help form part of your heritage and shared community. It can also help to understand other faiths - especially ones you will likely interact with. It goes wrong when it's taught very narrowly.

Online Harry Black

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Re: Welsh schools to teach humanism alongside religions in religious education
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2019, 06:09:47 AM »
I think teaching about various cultures would be a great idea and focusing on the effect of particular religions on particular cultures would be a necessity.
It would help people to learn a bit more about the people they are seeing every day outsode of school and on the news without using religion as the default filter.
What I often find missing from the analysis of people I speak to in general, is an awareness of the culture of the people they may be discussing, for example the difference between tribal and religious traditions in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Both are very relevant to world affairs and how we perceive people from the regions but very few people are aware of them unless they have really read into it or been there and followed up.

Online 2397

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Re: Welsh schools to teach humanism alongside religions in religious education
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2019, 07:00:08 AM »
If you're teaching belief, then non-belief has to be part of it, to fully understand the subject.

It's an argument that's often used against atheism; some people seem to think that it's impossible to live normal lives without "believing in something", as if all our innate human values disappear if we don't attribute them to gods or spirits.

In my own case, I think I would've shed my religion faster if non-belief had been treated as equal to belief. Instead I don't remember it ever being a topic of its own. I had one teacher in middle school (13-16) who on some occasions mouthed off about religion, not in religion class but when he was telling stories. That might've been my first introduction to the idea that it could all be wrong. And pretty much the only one. I remember a high school teacher (again not in religion class) who said that agnosticism made more sense than atheism, but I wasn't part of that discussion.

I might have had humanism as a topic, but not enough of an emphasis on lack of belief that I have a clear memory of it. So I guess what I would like to see is more attention paid to that, and not putting humanism in this "other" category as some schools might do with all religions except Christianity.

Tribalism would be a good class to have as part of general education, if it was done right.

Offline amysrevenge

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Re: Welsh schools to teach humanism alongside religions in religious education
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2019, 11:47:46 AM »
I think even just the notion that there are people who select "none of the above" for religion, and that this is a normal thing, would have been valuable to young me.
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Offline Quetzalcoatl

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Re: Welsh schools to teach humanism alongside religions in religious education
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2019, 08:10:17 AM »
If you're teaching belief, then non-belief has to be part of it, to fully understand the subject.

I agree.

Would you also agree that teaching dead religions, like Norse mythology, Greek mythology, etc, could also be an important part of the subject?

Ideally, I would like the subject of religious education to teach the historical contexts of where and how they arose. For example, how the Babylonian exile for the Jews resulted in their contact with Zoroastrianism, profoundly influencing their beliefs. How the historical claims of the Bible compares with actual history, for example the exodus story. How and when the books were actually written down, i.e to put emphasis on the Documentary hypothesis rather than on the tradition that Moses wrote them. To teach about the intense sectarian rivalry in the early Christian history, for example the struggles between Arianism and Catholicism. And how the Quran shows influences from Judaism, heterodox Christianity, Arabian polytheism, and Zoroastrianism, and the historical background. Pre-Islamic Arabia was a safe haven for different heterodox believers, and also was the place of a Jewish kingdom.

Of course, the subject should also include the history of non-belief, for example the Carvaka movement in ancient India, and how in the Roman Empire, even socially conservative establishment figures could express doubt about the traditional religious beliefs. Even the Norse sagas have occasioanal mentions of individuals who appeared not to believe in the gods, or at least not try to rely on them.

I might have had humanism as a topic, but not enough of an emphasis on lack of belief that I have a clear memory of it. So I guess what I would like to see is more attention paid to that, and not putting humanism in this "other" category as some schools might do with all religions except Christianity.

Tribalism would be a good class to have as part of general education, if it was done right.

Memory being what it is, you should look up how the subject of religion was taught when you were in school age.

Online Harry Black

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Re: Welsh schools to teach humanism alongside religions in religious education
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2019, 09:20:44 AM »
Quetz I agree whole heartedly with what you have said in the context of the real world.

My personal preference would be that religion was not given the privilege of being a subject at all though and we focused more on learning about people with different cultures and traditions with religion forming a necessary part of that.

In my primary school, we did learn about greek, roman and scandanavian mythologies and religions and that was cool. I reckon though that what ends up being taught to students regarding the history of religion would not match what you and I would like to see.
History is as much about interpretation of the facts as it is the facts themselves, hence it is always important to get differing sources perspectives and differing historians perspectives. I reckon that the teaching would skew heavily in favour of the teachers own bias or the desired bias of the majority of parents being enforced by the principle.

Still better than what most schools have now though.

Offline Billzbub

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Re: Welsh schools to teach humanism alongside religions in religious education
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2019, 01:05:42 PM »
I think it would be very cool to have a History of Religion class as Quetzalcoatl and Harry Black have just described.  I imagine what the ideal class would be like, with just the right amount of detail and perspective.  Ahhh, if only.
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