Dare to Know

“Isms” Linking Humanism and Unitarian Universalism for High School Youth

Dare to Know is a 23-Session curriculum designed for Unitarian Universalist high school religious education classes (9th to 12th grades). Also included are five additional suggested supplemental Sessions using videos to further develop discussion topics. Throughout the curriculum are recommended readings related to each Session topic, generally consisting of novels suitable for high school readers.

Dare to Know exposes youth to a broad range of ideologies (or “isms”) about the nature of existence and the purpose of life. Specifically, Dare to Know introduces students to major tenets of Humanism as expressed in the Humanist Manifesto II, written in 1973. It is important to explore and understand Humanism since Humanists and Unitarian Universalists generally share many viewpoints. In addition to comparing and contrasting Humanism and Unitarian Universalism, Sessions explore:

  • a wide range of Western philosophical concepts and schools of thought, particularly focusing on the works of modern philosophers;
  • the lives and words of specific individuals who are exceptional examples of Humanists and freethinkers; and
  • techniques of futures research and thinking that will support a futurist point of view.

Dare to Know is designed to be taught either as a full year of 28 Sessions, or as five independent modules of five to six Sessions each. In this way, churches with traditions of high school religious education classes can use Dare to Know as a full-year curriculum. Those churches just starting a high school class for the first time, or reinvigorating one that has been dormant can ease the youth into the notion of a religious education class by taking one module at a time. While the modules are best used in the order presented, churches may feel free to adapt the curriculum to their specific needs and the desires of the youth.

Specific Session topics included in Dare to Know are the following.

MODULE ONE – Origins of Humanist Thought
Session 1 – The Role of Myths and Gods
Session 2 – A History of Humanism
Session 3 – The Nature of Ethics
Session 4 – The Limits of Relativism

MODULE TWO – The Tools of the Humanist
Session 5 – Knowing Yourself: Psychology and Behavior
Session 6 – Being Skeptical
Session 7 – Using Reason
Session 8 – Pursuing Knowledge: Journalism and the Media
Session 9 – Using Technology: The Impact on the Individual
Session 10 – Using Technology: The Impact on Society

MODULE THREE – Humanism and Social Relations
Session 11 – Shaping Your Own Destiny: Existentialism
Session 12 – Inherent Worth: What Rights Does the Individual Have?
Session 13 – Civil Versus Community Liberties
Session 14 – Sexuality and the Humanist Ideal

MODULE FOUR – Humanism, Politics, and Economics
Session 15 – The Use of the Democratic Process
Session 16 – The Separation of Church and State
Session 17 – The Distribution of Societal Resources
Session 18 – Equality for All

MODULE FIVE – Humanism and the World
Session 19 – One Nation, One World
Session 20 – Violence, War, and Terrorism
Session 21 – Promoting Economic Justice
Session 22 – Our Role in Nature
Session 23 – What Will the World Be Like?

Youth enjoy an intellectual challenge, so long as it does not replicate the school experience they face throughout the week. Dare to Know focuses on issues rarely covered in school curricula and encourages youth to challenge their assumptions and assimilate new ideas into their own personal theology. The classroom technique most used is facilitated discussion prompted by brainstorming Sessions and questions to challenge thinking processes. Participants are empowered to take discussions where they lead.

Youth have the ability, the desire, and the scholastic background to discuss complicated issues of religion and philosophy. Unfortunately, these are issues that few youth are exposed to, even if they attend college. Unitarian Universalism and modern Humanism share a unique bond and UU youth should have in-depth exposure to the tenets of Humanism and related philosophies as they travel along the spiritual path. Dare to Know helps youth aims to help youth stay on the path by exploring a wide range of ideologies and beliefs and challenging widely-held assumptions in society that affect them every day. Dare to Know assumes that it is the responsibility of our churches to help youth develop into adult Unitarian Universalists by expanding their intellectual horizons and helping them to develop spiritually.