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On giving a talk to primary school kids on Humanism

Any topics that are primarily about humanism or other non-religious life stances fit in here.
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scoggy
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Joined: October 25th, 2010, 10:04 pm

On giving a talk to primary school kids on Humanism

#1 Post by scoggy » October 26th, 2010, 10:48 am

My elder daughter has recently started primary school which has bought up for me for the first time all the issues I know many of you will kids have dealt with (eg discriminating faith schools, compulsory worship).

The other day she bought home with her a form asking for parents to volunteer to speak to the kids about their religion. I returned the form offering to talk about my Humanist beliefs. I'm unsure whether they'll want me to do this. They may not consider it a religion (as I don't, but I think it deserves a place at the table they're setting out).

I've not heard back from them, so I don't know if I'll be asked to speak to the kids on Humanism. (If they don't I'll check that some form of atheism is being presented to the kids). It's got me thinking about what I'd say though.

I'd probably class myself as being broadly anti-religion (copmpared to my wife at least), but I certainly wouldn't want to present anything negative about religion to these kids (in the same way that I'd hope other speakers would be giving positive talks about their beliefs).

I imagine they'll be wanting people to speak to the older kids in the school (which goes all the way to 11) ("one higher") but I suppose it's possible they may include the kids as young as four.

I've been searching for guidance on what to say if I get the calling. I'm surprised I've not found much, so was wondering if anyone can give any guidance.

For primary school kids my thought would be to keep it simple and cover:
- I don't believe in a god or afterlife
- My moral view is that people should follow the golden rule, though without a punishment or reward for doing so, other than believing it's the right thing to do
- When people in authority assert something I look to see if there is evidence to support what they're saying

Has anyone given a similar talk? Can anyone offer any help please? I'm adept at talking to my four year old daughter, but am not sure at what level I should pitch a talk to, say, seven to eleven year olds.

(An aside:
We've never really spoken to our kids about god or religion. We've read the sanitised version of the Christmas story you tend to get in books aimed at young kids - not much reference to god - and told them, when asked, that Jesus was probably a real man, but we treat it like any other story.

I've told my elder kid about Norse gods and, for example, how the Danes would say Thunder was caused by a 'God of Thunder', but now we know what really causes thunder (and Nina and the Neurons on CBeebies has backed me up on that one).

I imagine the subject of religion will probably come up over Christmas, depending on what her school do around that time.

What we of course do is bang on about the golden rule to them, and try to get them to think how they'd feel in different situations, and adjust their behaviour accordingly.)

Nick
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Re: On giving a talk to primary school kids on Humanism

#2 Post by Nick » October 26th, 2010, 11:08 am

First of all Scoggy, welcome to the forum :D

I do hope you are asked to speak. In your shoes, I'd certainly want to make sure that someone was giving a non-religious perspective. If the school refuses, I'd create an unholy row (as it were).

For ideas, have a look at the British Humanist Association website, which has an education section and lots of things for you to look at which should help you.

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Alan H
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Re: On giving a talk to primary school kids on Humanism

#3 Post by Alan H » October 26th, 2010, 11:33 am

What Nick said. Their education section is here. Also, the BHA has a register of school speakers, trained to talk about Humanism to school kids. Email the BHA at local@humanism.org.uk.
Alan Henness

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scoggy
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Re: On giving a talk to primary school kids on Humanism

#4 Post by scoggy » October 26th, 2010, 11:48 am

Thanks for the steer - I thought I'd been all over that site, but clearly missed a large and relevant chunk.

This page looks particularly good, even giving me the age ranges:
http://www.humanismforschools.org.uk/hu ... ective.php

I do intend to make a fuss if there's no non-magical perspective for the kids. My wife would much rather I didn't. I think she imagines me in the classroom shouting "You just die and you rot. That's it. Get used to it. And another thing, let's talk about Santa..."

tubataxidriver
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Re: On giving a talk to primary school kids on Humanism

#5 Post by tubataxidriver » October 30th, 2010, 12:06 am

Scoggy,

Assuming that your child attends a regular state school, not a faith school. If you can get a copy, it might be worth looking at the local Agreed Syllabus for RE, which is prepared by the local SACRE. This will set out for KS1 and KS2 the main topics and approaches that are used with RE teaching. In my experience with these younger age groups it will concentrate on festivals, ceremonies and the "outward" trappings of religion, rather than the internal stuff. Hence you might get asked to describe all the wonderful humanist festivals, the special meals we have, the special dress we use on particular special days of the year, etc. At least we do actually have some ceremonies.

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Alan H
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Re: On giving a talk to primary school kids on Humanism

#6 Post by Alan H » October 30th, 2010, 12:19 am

Good advice.

Every Council must have a SACRE and they set the syllabus for the (non-denominational) schools in the Local Council's area. You may be able to find SACRE on your Council's website. They might have contact details and may have their syllabus as well.

(Ask why they are not using the Brent Council's model syllabus!)
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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scoggy
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Re: On giving a talk to primary school kids on Humanism

#7 Post by scoggy » October 30th, 2010, 6:36 am

Thanks guys. I'm in Cambridge, and sure enough have the local SACRE info here:
http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/educat ... /SACRE.htm

I can't find the agreed syllabus here, though there are references to it on that site and within the minutes.

I notice there is a 'Co-opted' Humanist on the membership.
http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/NR/rdo ... une_10.pdf

I found this on the BHA site about co-opted members: "Paragraph 103 of Circular 1/94 explains the composition of the different groups or committees that make up a SACRE. Humanists used to sit on Group A, by a tactful stretching of the meaning of the word "denomination". However, the Christian Right secured the inclusion of an additional stipulation (paragraph 104) in an attempt to eliminate humanist representation. Despite this, the SACREs of many authorities exercise their power of co-option to include humanists, and a few invite humanist to be full members"

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scoggy
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Re: On giving a talk to primary school kids on Humanism

#8 Post by scoggy » October 30th, 2010, 7:03 am

A bit more Googling and I found this (ugly) site with more info:
http://c97.e2bn.net/e2bn/leas/c99/schoo ... CRE/SACRE/

Here's the syllabus.
http://c97.e2bn.net/e2bn/leas/c99/schoo ... 202007.pdf

I can see one reference to Humanism as a comparison point (plus a url) and one to atheism (in a footnote).

I can't find the Brent Agreed Syllabus, but have found a report which tals about it a bit:
http://www.humanism.org.uk/_uploads/doc ... Report.pdf
The section at the end of that report on hostility from other SACRE members is a fun read.

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Alan H
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Re: On giving a talk to primary school kids on Humanism

#9 Post by Alan H » October 30th, 2010, 9:58 am

Different Councils interpret the law differently with regard to having Humanists on SACRE. Strictly speaking, we are not allowed to be full members or even to co-opted. However, some Councils have a more enlightened attitude. Here in Brent, the Chair of the SACRE is BHA Trustee Josh Kutchinsky and I sometimes attend as a member of the public, but I am made to feel welcome and no one objects to me putting my tuppence worth in!
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

Robin Martlew
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Joined: October 31st, 2010, 5:48 pm

Re: On giving a talk to primary school kids on Humanism

#10 Post by Robin Martlew » October 31st, 2010, 8:27 pm

Hello! I'm Robin Martlew and a member of the Cambridge Humanist Group.
For a start we would love to be in touch with you and welcome you to our various activities.
We have two Humanist Chaplains at the CRC Cambridge Regional College! I'm one and I know that title seems a little ambiguous. but it works after a fashion.
We ran a training session in July for our interested members and now have six or more trained and/or experienced people willing to talk to schools etc. I am more than willing to meet you and discuss anything you like about talking to schools and as the group's campaigns coordinator I am trying to make contact with schools and colleges, not to mention people who are interested in this activity.
My best suggestion is that children don't need to be 'converted' and prosyletizing ( never could spell it!!) is neither welcome nor desirable. What children need is to realise that 'not believing' is a perfectly valid position held by many 'grown ups' and that being 'good' does not need a God, just trying to get on well with other people. My telephone number is 01954210298 and you can look us up on the net via Cambridge Humanists.
Very much hope to hear from you and any other people interested. We are growing steadily in numbers and activities.
We meet very informally on Sunday mornings from around 11.am at the CB2 cafe just off East Road; which could be a good start!
All the best!
Robin.

tubataxidriver
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Re: On giving a talk to primary school kids on Humanism

#11 Post by tubataxidriver » November 2nd, 2010, 11:24 pm

Re: Humanist membership of SACREs. Circular 1/94 has now been withdrawn and there are new rules on membership which no longer have a ban on humanist members.

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