Atheist Ireland to Develop a Course About Atheism for Young Students

Atheist Ireland launched an important new initiative yesterday in which they will be “financing, developing, designing and piloting Ireland’s first primary school course about atheism.”

As it stands, the grade levels that Americans would consider “elementary” already teach kids about religion. (Most schools are denominational, after all.) But atheism isn’t mentioned in the curriculum and it’s barely touched upon even when the kids get older.

This project will help fill that void:

The initial project will involve a set of ten lessons for one age grouping, to be decided (either Junior and Senior Infants; or 1st/2nd class; or 3rd/4th class; or 5th/6th class). Ultimately we would like to develop it into four sets of ten lessons, one for each of those four age groups.

The lessons will be 30-40 minutes in length. Professionals will be employed to write lessons, and a co-ordinator will be employed to manage the project.

Our lessons about atheism will be based on the Toledo guiding principles and will be taught in an objective, critical and pluralist manner. They will teach about atheism, not teach atheism.

We also hope to make course material available for parents whose children are in denominational schools, and who want material for their child to study while they are opted out of the Religious Education / Faith Formation classes.

The lessons will be piloted and implemented in Educate Together (a group of multi-denominational) schools. It’s incredible that no one has done this already, but it’s a fantastic idea: Expose children to the idea that not being religious is perfectly fine (and moral!) and atheism is one of the options they can choose when they’re ready to. It’s early to tell what the pushback will be like, but in a country where religion ranked dead last on a list of 119 possible priorities for citizens, I’m betting there won’t be too much.

More details can be found at the AI website.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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