Promoting understanding, empathy, and tolerance: interview with humanist school speaker, Clare Campbell

6 December, 2022

Clare Campbell is a humanist school speaker based in Pembrokeshire. We caught up with Clare to find out more about how school speakers are making a positive impact on young people’s lives by enhancing their understanding of humanism as a lived, non-religious approach to life.

Hi Clare! What motivated you to become a humanist school speaker?

Growing up, I went to Anglican schools and I attended my local Methodist church for Sunday services, choir, and youth club. I grew up not knowing that there was an alternative viewpoint! 

Now, as an adult and as a humanist, I think it’s vitally important that children and young people learn about people who are different to them. From education comes understanding, empathy and tolerance. I want pupils to know that not all people have a religious faith, and that those people still lead fulfilling lives and have their own convictions. If I can be part of that, then I think that’s a worthwhile thing to do.

What resonates with you most about the humanist approach to life?

I like the fact that I must constantly reassess my outlook on life. One can’t sit back and set one’s beliefs in stone. You need to be curious, empathetic, and be prepared to change when better evidence appears. I will only have one life and I want to have the most fulfilled life that I can. That, I think, is achieved partly by helping others, and being happy in doing so.

What was training with Humanists UK like? How did it prepare you?

The training demonstrated techniques for making pupils  aware of humanism without the speaker being critical of other worldviews. This is really important in schools. The training also helped with how to talk about humanism with younger children, those of Key stages 1-2, though I still feel more confident with older children, particularly with those around 15-16. I was also made aware of the range of resources that are available through Humanists UK to help with the speaker role. That’s been very helpful!

What was your first school visit like?

My first visit was via Zoom during the pandemic. I had prepared what I was going to say but was still quite nervous. After explaining what a humanist approach to life entailed, we held a discussion on what the pupils thought constitutes a decent person, and how that has changed over history. It was really interesting! We then talked about people that impressed them today, and how they felt about certain statues being taken down, and why. I also told them about the humanist group that I attend, and the subjects that we discuss there. The teacher said that the pupils had found the session very interesting, and it had led to some lively discussions afterwards. She also said the pupils had found the session very ‘real’ and it made such a difference to a lot of the subjects within RE that she had to deal with.

Thank you for speaking with us, Clare!

If you’re interested in having a positive influence in your local schools by  becoming a humanist school speaker, find out more today.  Apply by 13 January for a place on our next online training course on  25 February.