Sunday, April 20, 2008

Humanism to be taught at GCSE

Thousands of teenagers will be taught about humanism for the first time as part of a religious education GCSE.

  • Have Your Say: Should humanism be taught at GCSE?
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  • Pupils will be encouraged to debate controversial issues from the standpoint of all the major faiths - as well as those that reject the existence of God.n an attempt to bring the subject up to date, students will use the different views to examine topics such as euthanasia and abortion.

    The OCR exam board said the "philosophy and ethics" course would also include units on the nature of good and evil, medical ethics and death and the afterlife.

    Examiners said humanism - the rejection of religion in favour of reason and a belief in human potential - had been included to reflect its growing popularity in the UK

    The problem is still with the religious schools. Can you see them teaching anything that promotes humanism in a positive light?
    Posted by Martin Henderson on April 18, 2008 8:28 PM
    A teachers' representative in Hull at a SACRE meeting recently told the meeting that 99% of the children in her school were atheist (75%) or agnostic (24%). So learning about the various gods of the different religions in RE classes just helps to confirm the indifference of these children to religion. In Birmingham this has been recognised, and their RE syllabus has been radically changed to replace most of the religious education with moral education.
    Posted by Paul Smith on April 18, 2008 6:07 PM
    High time Humanism was given at least equal importance in RE lessons. Religion is increasingly irrelevant to growing numbers of people, especially teenagers. We should be teaching them to think for themselves, and obscure ancient texts just don’t apply to modern life.
    Posted by Amanda Waite on April 18, 2008 6:04 PM
    I find it astonishing that, in 2008, such a question should be asked. In return, I'd ask, why not? We introduced a new syllabus that includes Humanism and secular world views in Suffolk last year. It's long overdue.
    Posted by Margaret Nelson (Humanist SACRE member) on April 18, 2008 4:46 PM
    I really can't understand why humanism isn't already being taught. Young people need to be introduced to a wide range of philisophical world views without fear or prejudice as early as possible. Why wait until GCSE, this should be taught at primary school.
    Posted by J Jones on April 18, 2008 4:38 PM
    Including the non-religious needs to start from day 1 at school. The most damage is done at Primary school, especially in the 30% that are faith schools.

    The RE curriculum is still drawn up by vested interests and serves to promote religion, as does the daily act of worship.

    Throughout the average RE syllabus there are referrals to truth, critical thinking, etc., in an attempt to make RE appear like a proper subject of study. How confusing it must be for pupils, mixing up fact and fiction.

    Of course, RE varies greatly from teacher to teacher. But it is up to the local SACRE to take the lead and include the non-religious. If they do not, they are breaching the government's own guidance on social cohesion.

    Change needs to come from government. RE needs to be scrapped and replaced by something like Philosophy and Culture, where religion can be placed in its proper context; and where the true facts of religion can be openly discussed.
    Posted by Andrew Edmondson on April 18, 2008 4:27 PM
    Excellent news! This will allow the 2 out of 3 teenagers who have no religion to be introduced to the lifestance that is most likely to appeal to them. (The 2 out of 3 figure emerged from two very big surveys a decade apart - one for the old DfES, one by two clergymen.)

    But even children who have a religion need - and deserve - to know about Humanism, just as unbelieving children need and deserve to know something about religion.

    Now Humanism must take its place in the RE syllabus all through school.
    Posted by David Pollock on April 18, 2008 3:59 PM
    I don't know what the philosophy and ethics course referred to is or will be but the present position is as follows. RE is supposed to be taught to local agreed syllabuses produced for each LEA by SACREs as previously mentioned. There are national guidelines in the form of The QCA Non-Statutory National Framework which encourage the teaching of non-religious philosophies such as humanism. some SACREs include it fully, some suggest it as an optional topic and some will not have it included at all.
    It would be good to see Humanism taught more widely and on equal terms with religions
    Richard Scutt SACRE member (co-opted!!!)
    Posted by Richard Scutt on April 18, 2008 3:54 PM

    It's time children were exposed to the idea that not everyone subscribes to organised religion.

    Next let's have a change on SACRE representation. I find it amazing that in my London Borough, the Rastafarians - representing a part of the 0.3% of 'other religions' are allowed a vote, whereas the Humanist representative is not.

    Those of no faith in the borough, forming 18% of the local population and therefore the 2nd largest 'faith group' by a substantial margin have no voice.

    Talk about discrimination!

    Posted by Cllr Helen Jardine-Brown on April 18, 2008 3:10 PM
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    An excellent move forward.

    The next step is to replace the disgraceful Circular 1/94 Guidance on RE written by Jesuit-trained John Patten under the Thatcher government. Circular 1/94 explicity discriminates against humanists on SACREs and doing away with it would allow those of ALL beliefs to be fairly and equally represented.

    Given that over 65% of all 12-19 years olds claim to be agnostics or atheists, isn't it also time we got rid of the silliness of a daily act of religious worship in schools?
    Posted by Mike Lake on April 18, 2008 2:37 PM

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