Humanist Workshops for Schoolchildren

The Center for Civil Courage started in April 2013 its project “Freethought Academy” which presents humanist and feminist lectures and workshops to elementary school children

Context: We were alarmed by dogmatic religious worldviews that influence our children in Croatia. The imposition of religious ideology is systematically implemented in all social aspects and especially within the educational system, which stresses the importance of the question of opinion-forming among children with respect to women, human rights, or science. Thus we have decided to give the children the right tools in the form of freethinking and feminist workshops.

Aims: Our workshops promote open discussion and learning with the application of humanist and feminist thought. They encourage skeptical thinking and, consequently, exploration and critical evaluation of existing knowledge while encouraging children to have confidence in their own reasoning. Children are also introduced to human rights struggle and heritage thus developing their compassion and solidarity with the needs and rights of others, especially underprivileged members of society. This approach encourages coexistence in diversity through accepting others, even though they may be different.

Description: We offer two groups of workshops; for minors and the elderly participants of elementary school age, with the intention to explain topics that are related to issues of civil courage, humanism, secularism, feminism, activism, science, human rights, and arts. 

Experiences from previous workshops show that the need for our workshops was not only recognized by non-religious families but also by religious parents who do not want their children to be deprived of an education that includes humanist and feminist values.

Annually we organize ca. 12 workshops, six of which are devoted to feminism and contemporary women’s rights issues, and their social equality. One of our urgent workshops is dedicated to violence in schools, whose roots are also in increasing violence against women and girls, and failure to decisively condemn and prevent such violence from all social levels.

Beneficiaries: Applying good pedagogy based on critical opinion and distinction between the scientific approach and religious one, our workshops are currently the only available informal type of education that prevents any indoctrination and provides education on life with acceptance of differences, freely and without submission of any members of society. Strengthening children’s identity and, most importantly, safe and free space is an important part of the workshop in which children may freely and without fear express their opinions and experiences from school. Another aim is strengthening participants in their relations to others and understanding the needs of others, making children conscious with respect to human rights, and teaching them how to stand up for their rights and the rights of others.

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