World Religions Day, 8th February

Having completed the Humanists UK accreditation training last year, OxHums member, Jan Skelton, was invited to talk on humanism at Didcot Girls’ School and did such a good job that the school requested another talk as part of their World Religions Day project on 8th February this year. Groups of around 30 pupils were sent out to review various religions, their beliefs, rituals and traditions, and the co-ordinator was thankfully keen to include the humanist worldview.

The girls start their visit with a brief tour of Balliol with Piers.

Our initial concern was choice of venue – finding somewhere that allowed us to provide a presentation to such a large group in an environment which reflected our ethos. Thankfully OxHums member, Piers Nye was able to secure us a room in Balliol College’s offshoot site on Jowett Walk which fit the bill perfectly – Balliol being a prestigious academic institution with notable humanist alumni, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Copson.

Michele introduces Jan Skelton’s Introduction to Humanism talk

Jan had produced a brilliant slide presentation which covered all of the issues the students needed to report back on. We had time for questions at the end, and got a few interesting ones (what is the humanist attitude to alcohol and drugs??) – mainly because the project supervisor had given the girls cards with questions aimed at a religious group. Between us we managed to answer everything they needed for their project, and I think Jan gave them a very comprehensive and accessible introduction to the basics of humanism.

We have already agreed to make it an annual event, and can hopefully start to promote our availability to other schools in the area and, with Jan’s slides and resources available from Humanists UK, increase the promotion of humanism to younger people in Oxfordshire