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Leaving SACRE

After many years as a Humanist representative on Suffolk’s Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE), a full member* for the last two years, I resigned at today’s meeting and recommended Andrew Morrison, our group chairperson, as my replacement. I’ve enjoyed my involvement with SACRE, though there are so many changes in the offing that I’m happy for Andrew to deal with them. He’ll be fine!

RE is “inadequate” in one in five schools

The BBC has reported an Ofsted report on the teaching of RE in secondary schools, which describes it as “inadequate” in one in five secondary schools. They say, “Its study suggested many teachers were unsure of what they were trying to achieve in the subject.”

I’m not surprised. A few years ago, a report was presented to Suffolk’s SACRE (Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education) by a middle school teacher who’d been given a grant from an independent body for a sabbatical to research RE provision in the county. Her report showed that, in many schools, RE was a low priority subject that came bottom of the list for resources and staffing. Teachers who were in charge of RE in their schools struggled to maintain standards because of frequent time-table changes, so that a different group of non-specialist teachers might be delegated to teach the subject in different terms. Consequently, a lot of RE was taught by teachers who knew very little about it.

June Newsletter ready now

June newsletterOur June newsletter is ready for you to download now.

Contents include:

Humanist weddings can be fun (and one of them was for our chairperson);

A visit to Down House with the U3A;

Changes at Suffolk Inter-Faith Resource;

Our car sticker designs – you choose;

Dates for your diary, including a pub lunch and a trip to the seaside.

Click here to download the newsletter (pdf).

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Alternative medicine: trick or treatment?

Edzard Ernst is the first Professor of Complementary Medicine in the United Kingdom. In 2008, Ernst and Simon Singh published Trick or Treatment? Alternative Medicine on Trial. Professor Ernst will be the inaugural speaker at Ipswich Skeptics in the Pub.

A Visit to Down House

I’m not one for traipsing round stately homes, being of the opinion that once you have seen one Queen Anne chair and polished mahogany table you have seen them all. However, when the Woodbridge U3A group planned a visit to Down House – the home of Charles Darwin – I thought this might well be worth a visit. And indeed it was.

The house is important because it was there that Darwin not only wrote his masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, but applied scientific reasoning and performed numerous experiments to confirm that his ideas were sound.

The time scales are surprising. Darwin moved into the very substantial Down House in 1842, but this was a full five years after his journey on the Beagle. Perhaps, even more surprisingly, it was only after another seventeen years of reflection (and probably worry) on what he had observed on that voyage that Darwin published his greatest work.

Humanist Week

International Humanist Day is on 21st June, the summer solstice. This year, British Humanists will be marking Humanist Week from 21st to 27th June with a variety of events. We’ll have a display in one of the cases at the entrance to Ipswich Central Library.

Monthly meeting

Finalising plans for Humanist Week & 10-minute Topics. We’ll be deciding what to put in the display case we’ve booked at Ipswich Central Library for Humanist Week (starts 21st June). Then, if there’s time, it’ll be 10-Minute Topics; everyone writes a subject for discussion on a bit of paper, then they all get mixed up and drawn at random. Any bees in your bonnet this week?

Death in film

The Ceremonies Team keep in touch by email and phone between face-to-face meetings. We’re friends, we support one another, and we share information, observations and ideas.

During on online discussion about films today, Sophie recommended a speech from a Dustin Hoffman film entitled. Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, aimed at fairly young children, with death as its theme. The passage Sophie particularly loves, “for it’s simplicity and dignity and honesty”, is the following:

Mr. Edward Magorium: [to Molly, about dying] When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He’s written “He dies.” That’s all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is “He dies.”

Humanist contribution to Suffolk Forum of Faiths

The theme for the forum on May 11th 2010 was “What on Earth are YOU doing?”. SIFRE members from the Faith and Belief communities around Ipswich were asked to speak for not more than ten minutes about the activities, aspirations and needs of their particular communities. SIFRE hoped to be able to identify areas of common concern, areas for cross-faith co-operation, which will be mutually beneficial and where one community might be able to help or advise another on issues of common concern.

As no SH&S member was available to attend the forum (it clashed with our regular meeting), I sent a paper, which ends:

We look forward to the day when everyone, regardless of their beliefs, will be treated as individuals and consulted as such, rather than through their “community”. Although some Humanists talk about a “community”, the idea is generally anathema to most of us. Some say that trying to organise Humanists is like trying to herd cats, with good reason, because we like to think for ourselves rather than accept any authority. The only form of “community” we recognise is the one we live in – our street, neighbourhood or district – where we have diverse beliefs, interests and opinions, and where we must try to get along together in spite of our differences. The same applies to society in general.

Click here to download the full text (pdf).