The history of religions and secularism
All year, a class at Henri Wallon Middle School in Ivry-sur-Seine focused on monotheistic and traditional African religions and the concept of secularism. The climax was an exhibition the students gradually created based on school trips, meetings and group work. This long-term activity allowed them to develop their knowledge and critical thinking skills.
The Fondation for the Memory of the Shoah funded the project.
Educational tours and meetings
Two half-days per quarter, the students participated in a cultural and educational class trip to a house of worship, a civic place or a secular memorial site. They toured the Museum of Jewish Art and History, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Victoire Synagogue and the Great Mosque of Paris.
Researchers and community leaders working on the history of religions, social harmony or secularism regularly spoke to them about Islam, Protestantism, traditional African religions, Judaism and the idea of secularism.
Meanwhile, around 10 teachers, each in his or her subject area, worked in class on related themes, in compliance with school programs.
A student exhibition
Each week during their lunch break, the students worked on the exhibition under their teachers’ supervision.
In groups, they focused on various themes (secularism, religion, "polytheism, monotheism, agnosticism, atheism", "conviction, faith, belief", etc.) and made panels featuring the different places they visited.
They, their families and representatives of the city and the board of education were invited to the opening, which took place at the end of the academic year.
The students regularly updated a blog (in French) following their project’s progress.
In addition to learning about the various religious traditions in French society, particularly in Ivry, the goal was to present secularism as a set of rights ensuring freedom of conscience and social harmony.