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Case study: life and death (Ages 16+)

Life and death (Ages 16+)

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Stanmore Park High School is a large mixed comprehensive school in the London borough of Harrow. The pupils are predominantly of Muslim background. The school wanted a humanists to take part in an interactive workshop for the Philosophy and Ethics ‘Matters of Life and Death’ 6th formers’ conference. A humanist volunteer was one of eight outside speakers and was asked to present the humanist point of view.

Objectives

  • To ensure that students had plenty of opportunity for discussion and exploration of a range of religious and non-religious worldviews having heard from a range of contributors.
  • To make the students aware of the humanist perspective on matters of life and death.

Planning

The school briefed the volunteers about the nature of the conference and the humanist volunteer prepared four simple Power Point slides which were e-mailed to the school in advance so that they could be put on the school network and made available to the volunteer and students in all classrooms, via the electronic white board ready for the conference day.
The day was planned on a ‘carousel’ basis so involved the humanist volunteer repeating the planned workshop three times across the day.

Activities

On the day of the conference the scene was set for the theme of ‘Matters of Life and Death’ by all the students listening to an address from a Holocaust survivor. Students were then split into groups of 15 and each group of students attended three different sessions across the day to discuss a range of perspectives around the main conference theme.

Each session was scheduled to last 55 minutes. The humanist volunteer made a short presentation about a humanist perspective on the theme and then encouraged discussion and debate. There was a teacher present in each of the sessions who contributed where appropriate and made supportive comments without disturbing the session.

button_request a volunteerTeacher/volunteer reflection

This was the first time the volunteer had engaged with a school, he noted that the level of participation in the groups differed but in general was very good and the students were well behaved, polite, and co-operative.

Pupil reflection

All the students reported that they had found the sessions interesting and had made them think more deeply about the big questions.

Humanism for Schools

Humanism is a non-religious approach to life, which the 2013 national framework for RE in England recommends be studied in schools as an example of a 'non-religious worldview'.

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