15 year old students from the diverse community of Queensbridge School, Birmingham, generously worked with us over four sessions. This group was chosen because their voice is not often heard in the death debate.
We used art as a way to respond to the challenging topic. Like any group of people, they did not all have the same views and we capture here some of their thoughtful opinions, having learnt some science, met undertakers and looked at practices round the world.
The students’ findings
- Death and the body after death should be covered at school. Future generations can bring about change.
- There is no one right way to deal with death and there has to be respect for all traditions.
- Respecting the individual who has died and meeting the needs of the family are very important.
- Decision-makers should be aware of different faiths, and how they might move forward to be aware of environmental issues.
- Dissolving the body might be the solution to issues of land shortage, the inefficiencies of burial and the environmental aspects of cremation.
The headteacher’s views
This topic took us out of our comfort zone, especially in a sensitive religious and cultural context. I was certainly a little cautious, but I always want our school to stretch itself and the students’ response makes me believe that this is something that young people can and should engage with, if it is handled well. I can see that there will be changes in what we do with the body after death and the next generation needs to be equipped to lead this.
We will explore introducing death and the body after death into the secondary school curriculum.
We will share how we led these sessions and lessons learnt.
It was very impressive hearing how young people brought up with and attached to one tradition, such as Muslim burial, could see the good points in other approaches.