Humanist Workshops for School Children

The Center for Civil Courage held humanist workshops for Croatian school children from April 2013 to June 2022 as part of its Freethought Academy. Since 2022 we have been holding online feminist workshops for little girl rebels.

Context: We were alarmed by dogmatic religious worldviews that influenced 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 promoted open discussion and learning with the application of humanist and feminist thought. They encouraged skeptical thinking and, consequently, exploration and critical evaluation of existing knowledge while encouraging children to have confidence in their own reasoning. Children were 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 encouraged coexistence in diversity through accepting others, even though they may be different.

Description: We offered two groups of workshops; for minors and 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 showed that the need for our workshops was not only recognized by non-religious families but also by religious parents who didn’t want their children to be deprived of an education that included humanist and feminist values.

Annually we organized ca. 12 workshops, six of which were devoted to feminism and contemporary women’s rights issues, and their social equality. One of our urgent workshops was dedicated to violence in schools, whose roots were 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 were the only available informal type of education that prevented any indoctrination and provided education on life with acceptance of differences, freely and without submission of any members of society. Strengthening children’s identity and, most importantly, a safe and free space were an important part of the workshops in which children could freely and without fear express their opinions and experiences from school. Another aim was to strengthen participants in their relations to others and understanding of 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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