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Toolkit 2 Teaching Notes

What do we celebrate and why?


The aim of this toolkit is to explore the humanist idea that our relationships with others are important.  Humanists say that it is our human relationships, and the love, commitment, and responsibility in those relationships, which give us the love and support we need in life.  Humanists do not believe there is any god who looks after us.Humanist new baby ceremonies and weddings/civil partnerships reflect this idea.  New baby ceremonies focus on the love, commitment, and responsibility of the parents and wider family and friends towards the child.  Weddings and civil partnerships celebrate the love, commitment, and responsibility of the couple towards each other and the support which friends and family can give.

While not all humanists choose to have such celebrations, the British Humanist Association helps people who want to have humanist ceremonies by providing booklets, ideas, and celebrants.  A celebrant helps the participants to plan the event and choose readings and leads the ceremony on the day.

This toolkit offers the opportunity to look at new baby ceremonies and weddings/civil partnerships.  You can choose to focus on just one of the ceremonies.  The plenary activities can be related to both or to each one separately.  Finally, using the assessment sheet (Worksheet 2c) pupils can record what they have learned and what they have enjoyed doing in this piece of work.

Learning Objectives

Pupils are able to

  • Explain why many humanists may hold new baby celebrations and weddings/ civil partnerships and say how and why these celebrations differ from or are similar to those of some religious traditions.
  • Explain what they themselves feel is of value and worth celebrating and compare their ideas with those of humanists and others.
  • Use correct vocabulary to express ideas.

Summary of Activities

The pupils think about different kinds of celebrations, using the stimulus of images on screen.  They reflect on what they themselves celebrate and what is important to them about those celebrations. Using two short video films the pupils investigate humanist new baby ceremonies and weddings/civil partnerships.  They compare and contrast the significance of these two events and new baby ceremonies and weddings/civil partnerships in some religious traditions they have studied. The plenary section then offers a choice of activities which enable pupils to present and reflect on their learning in creative ways.

Curriculum Links

Religious Education, particularly the themes of ‘Beliefs and Questions’, ‘The Journey of Life and Death’, ‘Religion and the Individual’ and ‘Religion, Family, and Community’.

Citizenship/ PSHE 1a, 2a, 2e, 2i, 4a, 4b, 4c, 4f

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

Opportunities for Art and Music.

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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