Subjects in Humanities

The humanities subjects taught in the Secondary School include non-confessional ethics, religion and philosophy.

The aim of the non-denominational ethics course is to provide a moral education based on free thought which is not subject to any particular philosophical reference.

This course is therefore open to all pupils, with the objective of teaching them through open discussion:

  • to search for coherent and lucid answers with rigorous respect for facts and rational ideas;
  • to take a personal, responsible stance leading them to be self-sufficient and receptive;
  • to develop a genuine moral code based on tolerance which includes being able to challenge oneself;

This course should be taught by a teacher who undertakes to respect the spirit and objectives of non-denominational ethics as defined in this programme.

While having the advantage of the widest freedom of choice of teaching methods (using texts, the press, video documentaries, pupil presentations, team work, role play, debates, excursions, exhibitions, clarification of values etc.) the teacher will above all favour the role of discussion in his lessons. He/she will develop active and tolerant listening strategies and respect for everyone's right to contribute to or lead discussion. He/she will develop the search for consensus of opinion or at least the desire to encourage the positive evolution of debate, in the spirit of pedagogical humanism.

Ethics courses should award an A grade in classes 1 to 3 and an A grade and a B grade in classes 4 to 7. The B grade is based on facts learnt and quality of argument. The A grade takes into account the student's participation in class.

Denominational Religion classes taught in the European schools aim to be special learning and educational opportunities. They provide pupils with guidelines for their personal development as well as different options of analysis for their daily choices in life.

This course seeks to help young people to lead a carefully thought out and responsible life. Denominational Religion classes implement a global and diversity-based education, which first and foremost search for meaning and pose questions, "drawing inspiration from the cultural, religious and humanist inheritance of Europe", as defined in the Preamble of the Lisbon Treaty.

Aims:

  • to familiarise the pupils with the traditions and the forms of Christian life (religious life);
  • acquisition of an adequate understanding of the philosophical and religious language and religious symbols;
  • to convey an understanding of Christianity, its historical development and its relations, especially with regard to the great questions of human kind;
  • to develop a binding reflection on the meaning of the vocation of humans in general and of Christians in the church and today's world in particular;
  • to impart a set of values??, which focuses on human dignity and the need to contribute for the common good;
  • to stimulate interest in a dialogue with both the cultural and human sciences as well as other religious, philosophical and moral traditions;
  • to convey the universality of the Christian message and its broad range of expression;
  • to address the need to develop a vision for the poor and disadvantaged.

The teaching of Philosophy, unlike university teaching, is aimed at pupils who, for the most part, are not destined to become specialist in philosophy, but who are all going to become responsible and free agents capable of justifying their behaviour and judgement. The goal of the teaching is therefore the harnessing of freedom through judgement.

Philosophising implies:

  • to reflect the fundamental principles of thought and human behaviour
  • to analyse problems
  • to examine and develop lines of arguments
  • to deal with fundamental questions of life and humanity
  • to explore and develop value systems
  • to critically examine our dealings with nature and technology
  • to come to terms with oneself and the world

As philosophy belongs to the cultural and intellectual heritage of Europe, its teaching aims to encourage the development of young Europeans by discussing different ways of thinking and thereby creating a solid foundation of mutual understanding and tolerance.

The aim of teaching Philosophy is not simply to impart knowledge of history and philosophy to the pupils, but above all to lead them to reflect on the major questions of life and the problems of contemporary society, while at the same time displaying sound judgement and a critical as well as self-critical approach.

The lessons are based on the themes from which the fundamental issues of human life (both individual and social) can be formulated. The themes are organised according to their defining analytic fields. They are conceived according to the established philosophical discipline while remaining independent from them:

  • Anthropology: man, nature, culture;
  • Metaphysics: the search for the principle of reality;
  • Ethics: man, moral and social being;
  • Epistomology: the conditions, means and limits of knowledge;
  • Aesthetics: art and the concept of beauty;
  • Political and legal philosophy: the legitimacy and the limits of political power;
  • The philosophy of history: what does history mean?

Pupils may choose Philosophy as a two or four period course. Philosophy as a two period course is compulsory for all pupils. The two period course in Philosophy leads to an oral - not written - BAC exam. Per semester, there is a two hour written test.

The curriculum for the two period course combines the above mentioned analytical fields with three topic areas:

Questions regarding awareness, knowledge and truth:

  • What can I know?
  • What is the role of the senses and the mind/ the reason?
  • Why am I doing mistakes?
  • What is truth, naive and scientifically founded certainty?
  • What is the relationship between beauty, art and truth?

Questions regarding man as a cultural and moral being:

  • Who am I?
  • What is man as a natural and cultural entity?
  • Why do I exist?
  • Have I got the right to happiness?
  • What is the meaning of life?
  • What are my social duties?
  • What is the meaning of good?
  • What am I allowed to hope for, taking into account the finite and infinite?
  • Are other people like me?
  • What are cultural identity and human communication?

Questions regarding society and politics:

  • Why do I have to observe the law?
  • How are legal rights and laws justified?
  • Who can restrict my freedom (justification and limits of political power. Universality of human rights)?
  • Why do we strive for power?
  • How is the correlation between law and the desire for justice?

In the four period Philosophy course, pupils may choose between an oral or a written exam, or, if they have sufficient other four period subjects, they may not be examined at all. The four period course in Philosophy also requires the study of long philosophical writings, and certain knowledge of important philosophers. The four period course covers the three above-mentioned topic areas more intensely and also includes an additional topic area: Nature and technology with the sub-fields: 

  • The scientific and the aesthetic concept of nature
  • Can we rule nature? Technological and environmental considerations
  • Development, growth and progress: how can they be judged in retrospect?
  • Is there necessarily a conflict between local culture and the globalisation of information technology, economy and ecology?

The teacher is free to establish the order in which the themes are taught, to supplement them and is encouraged to focus on some more than others depending on his/her philosophical interests and concerns as well as those of the pupils. It is possible to combine themes within a single field or to work across different fields.

Useful link