NSS launches new range of school resources: Exploring Secularism
Posted: Wed, 20 Mar 2019
The National Secular Society has launched a new range of resources for secondary school students and teachers to explore key questions related to secularism and religion's role in society.
Along with a website covering a wide range of topics, the first major resources to be published are Exploring Secularism: A guide for teachers and The Core Principles Resource Pack. The Core Principles pack features 19 original resources, presentations, exercises and stimuli for students to explore secularism's basic political philosophy of separation, freedom and equality.
Questions explored in Core Principles include: What is secularism? Is secularism a religion? How do secularists think about religion? And what different types of secularism are there?
The NSS's head of education Alastair Lichten said: "Secularism raises significant questions about how we balance freedom of, and from, religion with other rights. These are some of the most important questions which arise in all of the humanities, from religious and belief education to citizenship, and from the arts to history.
"Exploring Secularism provides teachers with the material they need to ask these questions in an informed way. It is not a manifesto of answers. It encourages students to explore a range of possible answers and come to some of their own.
"We've spent over two years developing these resources and it's exciting to finally make these available for all schools. As well as improving basic understanding of secularism, these resources will enrich schools' engagement with some of the most pressing debates involving religion's role in society.
"The Commission on Religious Education has recognised secularism as a key concept in the study of religion and worldviews. By using Exploring Secularism, students and teachers will join a long tradition of people from all faiths and none, of artists and authors, of politicians and philosophers, judges and theologians, all of whom have grappled with these debates."
There has been positive feedback to the resources from teachers involved in the test group.
Dr Emma Park, an academic and classics teacher from London, called Exploring Secularism "a wide-ranging resource which sets out the key ingredients of secularism and its relation to religion, the state, and pressing issues in our society such as free speech and equality."
She added that the resources were "clear, analytical and thorough" and said it "should be valuable for teachers of PSHE, philosophy, citizenship and RE alike".
Jo Teage, an RE teacher from Bristol, said the project provided "thoughtful resources that are adaptable to different abilities and ages, with terms explained for teachers".
"These will spark conversation and teach young people about some of the most important issues facing society today."