East London schools to get books on Humanism

From 21 February, primary schools in East London will be receiving free copies of What is Humanism?, a new book about Humanism from Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young, after a national crowdfunding campaign by the British Humanist Association.This is the first time the BHA has distributed a book to primary schools, and for many schools, it will be the first book about non-religious worldviews in their libraries.

The new book is the first book of its kind aimed at children, and was published to support teachers who want to explore non-religious ethics and humanist worldviews in Religious Education lessons. It features contributions from popular faces like comedian Shappi Khorsandi, physicist Jim Al-Khalili, actor Stephen Fry, and novelists Philip Pullman and Natalie Haynes, who are all humanists.

Chairman of the East London Humanist Group commented:

‘We live in an increasingly diverse as well increasingly non-religious society, and this means it’s right that more schools teach about mainstream non-religious values and ethics – and that means teaching about Humanism alongside the wide variety of religious traditions. Michael and Annemarie’s new book is brilliant and we’re sure teachers will find it useful when discussing how non-religious people go about leading happy, ethical lives.’

Michael Rosen and Annemarie Young commented:

‘Millions of people in this country and all over the world work out their philosophy of life, and how to live, without referring to religion. Schools quite rightly spend a good deal of time and effort exploring the ideas and philosophies of the world’s great religions, but the ideas of humanism, secularism, and atheism are largely ignored. The mismatch between what is believed and what is taught is surely wrong. Our book aims at opening up a discussion about what humanism is, and how people live their lives as humanists. Throughout the book, readers are encouraged to ask questions, in order to help them think for themselves and thus to counter prejudice.’

Recent surveys estimate that as many as one in five people in the UK share these values, and that half of the population claim no religion. This number rises to two in three for Britons under 35.

In recent years, the BHA has expanded its support for teachers based on increasing demand for lessons about Humanism. It has a website filled with free education resources, understandinghumanism.org.uk, and offers schools free school speakers who can help deliver lessons on Humanism.

Schools can request What is Humanism? for free through the BHA’s education website, Understanding Humanism (http://understandinghumanism.org.uk), which also provides free teaching resources about Humanism for children of all ages, along with trained and accredited humanist School Speakers who can help teachers to plan and deliver inclusive RE lessons.


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