To provide teachers with the resources necessary to teach accurate, high-quality lessons about humanism and to assist them with the development of their own subject knowledge, in order that every young person has the opportunity to learn about humanism.
Designed by teachers for teachers, Understanding Humanism features comprehensive, flexible, and free resources about humanism. They are designed to allow the opportunity for enquiry, critical evaluation, and reflection. Our resources can be used in the RE classroom but many are also relevant to PSHE, citizenship, and other areas of the curriculum, and can contribute to a school’s wider obligation to spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development.
Understanding Humanism is an ongoing project. We aim to develop and grow to ensure we meet the needs of teachers and students across the UK. Please tell us what you like and why, what is missing, and what you would like to see more of, and we will do our best to ensure our resources meet your needs.
Why teach humanism in RE?
Including humanism in RE lessons is an excellent way for teachers to fulfil their legal obligations to teach about a non-religious worldview. For more information about the 2015 High Court ruling click here.
As well as compliance with the new legal ruling, there are many ways in which including humanism in the curriculum can help schools and teachers achieve their aims.
Humanism is a fascinating subject in its own right and contributes to an academically rigorous curriculum. Studying it allows young people the opportunity to explore and learn from over 2500 years of human endeavour to understand our world and ourselves from a non-religious perspective. Humanism has had a significant influence on the beliefs, behaviour, and values that exist around the world today.
History and culture
Humanist thinkers and ideas have played a key role in our cultural heritage and national identity. Teaching about humanism helps enable young people to become culturally literate. From the scientific revolution, through the enlightenment thinking of David Hume, the feminist advocacy of Mary Wollstonecraft, the science of Charles Darwin, the ethics of John Stuart Mill, the novels of George Eliot, and the philosophy of Bertrand Russell, the UK has become one of the most non-religious countries in the world today. Humanist thought has helped shape the nation in which we now live, from the foundation of the welfare state to the way we approach death, from our social values to our literature and art.
Inclusivity and relevance
Teaching a diverse range of beliefs and values helps schools develop the whole person. All young people, with or without religious beliefs, deserve guidance on ways to discover truth, meaning, and happiness in their lives, and how to judge what is right and wrong. Where schools teach about non-religious worldviews alongside religious beliefs, young people who are not religious can become more engaged with RE as a whole. If young people are to be able to fulfil the SMSC goals of appreciating and celebrating diversity, as well as developing the ability to understand and empathise with others, then just as they should be made aware of the beliefs and values of the different principal religions, it is also vital that they learn what it means to be a humanist.
Opportunity and entitlement
Teaching about humanism helps schools deliver a fair and balanced education that ensures the spiritual, moral, social, and cultural development (SMSC) of all young people. In many schools, RE represents the main opportunity for young people to explore questions of meaning and ethics; it would be neglectful not to include non-religious perspectives on these in a manner comparable to religious perspectives.
If you are having any difficulty persuading others why humanism should be included in your school, you can find information about wider support here.
Click here for some top tips to help ensure your RE lessons are inclusive.