That may be fine for college students, but not high school, certainly not middle school or elementary. We can study it as history, as literature, as art and architecture, as part of the study of a contemporary society or culture (including our own), or as it influences or is influenced by a current political or social issue. I might navigate a little closer to the boundaries (or a lot closer, to my detriment), but I have refrained from “doing the right thing” many times to avoid the political aftermath of the decision. Finding correlations, connections, relationships, and causation in relation to religion is an essential component in understanding much of what has occurred in history, politically, scientifically, artistically, in literature, personal relationships and economics. Politics and diplomacy have not been the drivers of religion; the reverse is the case. Make your voice heard. My colleagues and I were working on an... 2. 1. Most students think we’re not supposed to talk about religion, so they may react emotionally and impulsively if we don’t prepare them. Businessman, volunteer, aspiring writer…. All class covering all majors religions of the world should be taight. These programs should instill understanding, tolerance and respect for a pluralistic society. Placing religion into schools would help to instill a better moral compass in students at a younger age, effectively reducing the problems in the public school systems. If we don’t kids automatically assume there is something wrong with them and there is something wrong with their family and their community, without ever verbalizing it. Making religion an integral part of the fabric of our curriculum may not be easy, but it is certainly legal and well worth the effort if we want to help our kids become independent tolerant critical thinkers who seek to understand and improve themselves and the world in which we live. Casting aside the hysteria associated with the subject, I think we can all agree that it would be wise to prohibit our children from being preached at, converted or “deprogrammed” in school. But I think we can also agree that religion has been such a vital element in every culture to date that we simply can’t understand history without some understanding of the religious influences prevailing at different times. Moreover, we are fooling ourselves if we think our kids are sheltered from important issues of any kind. We could call it “culture.” What I took away from the discussion was not that my colleagues were against teaching religion. Having said that, it is essential that students have already practiced important dialogue guidelines that have been clearly established prior to the exploration of religion. We can’t expect to shield them from thinking, and then expect them to start when they turn 18. And we are allowing extremists and the under-informed to dictate what we do and do not teach, without even making them lift a finger, before there is even a issue to resolve. The subject matter is very important if we are going to understand ourselves. We can even teach entire electives, called Religious Studies. Edutopia® and Lucas Education Research™ are trademarks or registered trademarks of the George Lucas Educational Foundation in the U.S. and other countries. Knowledge lessens unreasonable fears; the better we understand our fellow man, the less we fear him, the friendlier we feel toward him. Grandparent still trying to figure out what I am going to be when I grow up! Students are fascinated to learn of the Puritan work ethic, pre-destination, and the “city upon a hill” mentality that has rippled into our economic and political systems today. I use the word, discussion, a lot because whole group and small group discussions, talking circles, or Socratic seminars, is powerful pedagogy that shouldn’t be avoided when we hit sensitive subject matter. The earlier kids start learning about the world realistically in an educational setting, the more mature and reflective they become as adults. Better words for creepy might be intolerant or dangerous, but when I hear some of the flawed belief systems that kids will share if they are allowed to express how they really feel, and when I know these kids to be otherwise kind and loving people, the word that comes to mind is creepy. It obviously violates a student’s religious freedom to be forced to pray in a certain way or to pray at all. Naming oppression is the first step to liberation, and we as educators, have an absolute obligation to provide that space in the curriculum for our students; otherwise, we are being not only irresponsible, but we are promoting institutional racism and prejudice, much of which has its origins in religious persecution. Religion is a major cultural factor—arguably the most important one. To this day, students who were old enough to remember the Iraq War believe that we went to war because Sadam Hussein was behind 9/11. No one wants their children “indoctrinated” or “brainwashed” into some other religion or (in some cases) any religion at all. They want to know who was Buddha, who was Abraham, are Catholics Christians? Knowledge gives insight into the possible course of future events. 5. Students can see the long term effects of ideas and beliefs that permeate cultures today that arose from religions and world views of the past. If we don’t provide a safe environment to learn to make sense of the world, we end up with kids who don’t have the tools to cope, who suppress and ignore or react, or who follow their parents lead, never quite knowing how to process and develop their own views. We heard somewhere that teaching about religions was a violation of church and state, but it is not. Should religion be taught in schools? We know that religion a perfectly legitimate and important subject to study, but we avoid it out of fear of retribution. The Constitution and the Supreme Court give us very clear license to allow students of all ages to become students of the religions of the world. A 2013 study by the IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science found that religious classes have a significant amount of benefits, including that they help kids learn more internally about themselves and how they feel about God and religion. They also like studying the similarities of the religions within the Western and Eastern religions. It’s allowed. It’s very interesting to them and exciting to uncover a more realistic perspective about the world. The first step in fighting intolerance and discrimination is raising awareness. And then the questions just start flowing. Religion Plays a Role in History, Literature, and Current Events. This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. We can’t look at politics, economics, art, social relationships, science, our environment, or religion, without looking at how they interact with each other. It’s one thing to here these statements come out of the mouths of a Ku Klux Klan member, but it’s quite another to come out, in chorus, from the majority of any given classroom of beautiful children. This, in turn, will impact how much time we spend with our families, how we treat Elders, and other social relationships. Knowledge brings understanding. You would hope we would be better at it than 12 year olds, but that is not always the case. The Supreme Court certainly agreed, back in 1963, when it made a distinction between religious studies that are merely informative or educational and those that are devotional in nature. Four Reasons Why You Should Teach About Religion in School 1. That means we are depriving our youth of important knowledge they are entitled to receive. They also really liked a lesson that I retrieved from Teaching Tolerance showing the Golden Rule of Christianity also being the Golden Rule in every major religion. Greater knowledge, not less, is the path to peace on Earth. 7 Reasons We Should Teach More Religion in Public Schools Teasing about Religious Differences Starts as Early as Kindergarten. They also learn the rich history of the Quakers and their firm and early stance against slavery, the subjugation of women, and the suffering of the poor. Inspire Harmony If religious practices where allowed into the classroom then students would have the opportunity to learn about different religions and cultures first hand. We must speak of the origins and effects of these prejudices. Often when I promote the idea of dealing with complex sensitive issues with kids, a common reaction is that kids are too immature to deal with all that. Therefore, a well-educated person should know something about at least the basic concepts and beliefs of the world’s religions and the right to practice whichever one chooses, also known as religious freedom . I’ve found most of the challenges don’t come from legal boundaries at all, but more from the stigma attached to discussing religion in the classroom. The opinions expressed here are the writer's own. 4. When studying a culture, historical or contemporary, we can’t begin to understand a group of people without knowing their beliefs. Some will find a way to bring up the very issues we “pray” won’t come up- creationism, abortion, who doesn’t get to go to heaven, etc. 2. Finally, they conceded we could have a religion theme but we would not call it religion.

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