See our new site: UNDERSTANDING HUMANISM
A brand new website featuring comprehensive, flexible, and free educational resources for inclusive RE.

Toolkit 1 Teaching Notes

What Makes Us Special

Introduction

For humanists, one of the most important attributes of humans is the ability which we have to ask questions about the world around us and investigate those questions.

This attribute is important for humanists for two reasons:  it means that we can find out about and understand the world around us, and it means we can use the answers to our questions to change the world around us.  Humanists do not look to any god or sacred texts for guidance in life, but look rather to our own human ability to ask questions, explore the world, reflect on our own experience, and find answers.

Humanists say that our curiosity, and the intelligence, imagination, creativity, and empathy with which we seek answers to our questions, demands responsibility:  we can change the world we live in and we are responsible for our own actions.

The aim of this toolkit is to introduce pupils to these ideas and to stimulate them to explore their own responses to them.

Learning Objectives

Pupils are able to give their own answers to the following questions:

  • What makes us special?
  • How have our questions changed the world?
  • Is it always a good idea to think about lots of questions?

Pupils are able to compare their answers with those of humanists and other people.

Pupils are able to explain why humanists say that thinking about questions is special.

Summary of Activities

The pupils explore the questions they themselves are interested in, using the creative skills with which they feel most at home.  Using photos of people at work (for example a doctor, a scientist) and thinking about the questions they ask and the effect the answers have, the pupils find out about and reflect on ways in which human questioning has changed the world.

Pupils then explore the humanist ‘happy human’ logo and watch video clips of humanists talking about their ideas, in order to find out about the humanist idea that being able to think about questions makes people special because it means we can change our world and think for ourselves.

Pupils demonstrate their learning by collaborating to produce a display showing the humanist ideas they have encountered, discussing, with reference to their own and humanist ideas, the question of whether it is always a good idea to ask lots of questions, and expressing what they think is special about being human using artwork, stories, drama, dance, constructions, or other forms of creative expression.

Curriculum Links

RE / RME, in particular the themes of believing and symbols

Art and Design

Citizenship

English, opportunities for speaking, listening, group discussion and interaction, and drama

ICT

Science

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'.

© British Humanist Association 2016. 39 Moreland Street, London EC1V 8BB. Registered Charity No. 28598

Contact Us

British Humanist Association
39 Moreland Street
London EC1V 8BB
education@humanism.org.uk