Tuesday, October 28, 2008

God in schools?

I have a Facebook acquaintance who recently joined a group/cause on the site called "Keep God in Schools." A basic rundown of the group:
  1. Allow Teacher's to express religious views
  2. Allow faith and moral guidelines to be AVALAIBLE in school, NOT TAUGHT AS IN REQUIRED CLASS!
  3. Fight for the freedoms of religion and expression that this country promises
Also in their self-written description:
There are students who need moral guidance, and God should be available to them where ever, and that includes their school.

I commented on this, and this has been the conversation thus far:

C--- joined the cause Keep God In Schools!. 3:07am - 4 comments

Michelle at 12:02pm October 25
So then, would you also agree that it's okay for teachers to express their atheist views to their students? Or is it only teachers of a certain religion that should be allowed to express their views?

C--- at 11:23pm October 27
As it stands now, Michelle, most teachers DO get to express their beliefs as long as they are not Christian. I would hope that discussions could be expressed openly and freely regarding all types of religions. Not to force one religion over another but to state basic beliefs for intelligent discussions.

It is so good to hear from you!! I´m sending you greetings from Mexico...The Grand Mayan located in Nuevo Vallerjata!

Love from Gym, too! :)
Michelle at 4:13pm October 28
WOW. Having been both a student AND teacher in the public school system, I must say that your statement is absurd! Sorry, I'm not trying to offend, but I have never known any teacher to share religious beliefs unless they were Christian. You may argue that Muslim teachers who wear the hijab are expressing their religious views, to which I would argue they are only displaying their views, not discussing them with students. When is the last time you were in a public school? I'm absolutely astonished that you think teachers who are NOT Christian are the only teachers who express their views, as my experience has been the exact opposite! In fact, some of my own students have even complained to me that one of their teachers spends far too much time talking about Jesus, and not nearly enough talking about math, the subject they are SUPPOSED to be learning in that classroom.

Separation of church and state exists for a number of reasons, which I don't think I need to go into. To suggest that
a student who is displeased with the views of their teacher can just transfer out of the class is pretty far-fetched. It's not really that easy when there are a limited number of teachers and class periods to choose from. I personally think that the expression of religious views at school is highly inappropriate for teachers, because the students really are a captive audience. They didn't CHOOSE to be in there with you.

However, that aside, I might offer out the same suggestion as that of the creator of the "Keep God in Schools" cause. If you don't value the right in this country to have separation of church and state and would rather live in a theocracy, just move.

I'm still curious though, about your answer to my question, since you didn't actually answer it. Do you think that atheist teachers should be given the same right to express their thoughts on religion to their students as you claim the Christian teachers should have?

I'm wondering what others out there think about this?


Erin said...

I can't particularly picture a moment in which God necessarily fits into the curriculum. The only time I recall God being mentioned in school was in history classes. In some cases, the motivation behind some explorers embarking on their exploration was credited as a religious journey, or conquest. I think it is fair to acknowledge in the classroom the historical events took place as a result of ones religious beliefs, faith in a higher power. A great example is the Crusades. How can you teach the Crusades without mentioning that the motive was religious?

Do I think that it is appropriate for teachers to blatently welcome there students to their classroom by saying, "God loves you," or something equally as absurd? No. Is it necessary to have prayer in the classroom? Not necessarily. Should acceptions be made to allow students who want/need to pray at certain hours? Sure, but they should be able to do that on their own, in a private setting, without direction or leadership from the school. Appropriate arrangements should be able to be made between parents and administration, on a case by case basis.

Here's my bottom line. I don't find it appropriate for teachers of any religion to express their thoughts on religion - unless that discussion is part of the curriculum. Discussions as such should be held outside of class time. If a student has a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Atheist, etc., teacher and they want to know more about their personal beliefs, that discussion should be held before or after school.

Michelle said...

Absolutely. Thanks for your thoughts! I actually do teach an entire unit on World Religions in my history class, but I don't share my own views with the students.