Tim Hall, Ph.D.
As stated in my previous blog, there are four good reasons to incorporate religion into the curriculum in suitable ways readily (e.g., Social Studies, Literature). These arguments are summarized in graphic below.
In simple terms, students should learn about and from religions. But are there any guidelines for educators to teach about religion to help with this important task?The answer is yes!
These established guidelines have been agreed upon and published in several educational documents including:
- First Amendment Center: Finding Common Ground
- First Amendment Center: A Teacher’s Guide to Religion in Public School
- American Academy of Religion: Guidelines for Teaching about Religion in K-12 Schools
- National Council for the Social Studies: Position Statement on the Study about Religions in the Social Studies Curriculum
- National Council for the Social Studies: Religious Studies Companion Document to the C3 Framework
So below are the guidelines for educators to use while incorporating religion into the classroom.
- Teachers should be academic, not devotional in their treatment of all religions. Objectivity is the key to this perspective.
- Teachers should only teach for awareness of religions, not an acceptance of religion. There should be no proselytizing in the classroom regardless of personal religious perspective, which is private.
- Teachers should only teach about religion, not practice religion. Students should not be participating in religious ceremonies.
- Teachers should educate for student understanding of the diversity of religious views and not have an imposition of a particular viewpoint.
- Teachers should not promote OR denigrate religions. Adverse events associated with a particular faith tradition do not characterize the entirety of the religious group. (e.g., the perpetrators of the horrors of 9/11 do not characterize the 1.8 billion other people who are Muslim.)
- Teachers should only inform about beliefs, but they should not seek to make students believe. (1)
If an educator follows these guidelines, they are on the way to successfully incorporating religion into the classroom.
(1) First Amendment Center, A Teacher’s Guide to Religion in Public Schools.