How Todays Schools Can Teach About Faith

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Some schools still teach religion and go in depth about different faiths, but how can the schools of today teach about the Christian faith?

Hot Topics

Some topics, like faith and politics, are hot topics that bring people of similar beliefs together, but that also divide those of differing views. The issue of teaching faith in school is hotly debated. Some people believe that faith is something personal that should not be brought into settings where people with many varying beliefs interact like they do at schools. On the other hand, others believe that children would benefit from an understanding of the different faiths that are there.

Faith as a Contributor

Much as one would like for schools to be neutral zones where children can learn about general subjects like mathematics and geography, you cannot deny the contribution and impact that faith has had on any society. Faith has been and still is a big part of world development in literature, politics, art, architecture, and history in general. Many books about world culture or history mention significant figures, tenets, and scriptures of the contributing faith. So why should modern schools teach about faith?

Benefits of Learning Faith

1.     The world is divided on the faith front, but by allowing students to understand the different faiths and what they believe, they can be more tolerant and accepting of those who are different from them.

2.    Faith is a positive topic. When approached correctly, it contains positive messages and stories that can be helpful in character development.

3.    Learning about the faith of others makes people more open-minded and accepting. While some people fear that introducing faith to children will only confuse them, when you wait until they are older, you risk not being able to get through to them as they’ll be already set in their ways.

4.    Faith will help students understand themselves and others. There are some beliefs people hold about their faith and other people’s faiths that are not particularly true. An opportunity to learn about their beliefs and those of others will help them shed off any negative assumptions they may have.

5.    Teaching faith will help develop adults that are tolerant, independent, and critical thinkers. Even with the fear that children may turn away from faith in God, educating them about other world religions can make them more accepting of others, while still not condoning that religion.

6.    Many faiths contain teachings of morals and values that students would benefit from learning and adapting, first and foremost, Christianity.

Teaching Faith in School

This section will highlight some dos and don’ts when it comes to teaching about faith in modern schools.

DOs

1.   Teach about all the faiths.

Many schools, particularly public schools, have students from many different backgrounds and faiths. Teachers should make an effort to understand the different faiths there are and to teach them to the students. Students should understand the many teachings in these faiths. It’s helpful to have knowledge about certain founders and significant figures of other religions, including the ritual practices and beliefs practiced.

2.   Hold discussions and forums where students can interact and ask questions.

Children are naturally curious, and they have questions about the things going on around them. One way of teaching should be to have participative discussions and forums among the students with teachers facilitating. There should be guidelines about how the talks can proceed, including being respectful, staying on topic, and using “I” statements. For example, in these forums, students of specific faiths can answer questions about their faith. These forums would help students debunk myths and generally learn more about those of different faiths from their own Christian faith. Discussions and forums are an excellent opportunity for students to make correlations between the different faiths.

3.   Have religious clubs

Much as teachers are directed about what they can or can’t allow or teach in school in terms of religion, there is still the Equal Access Act of 1984. This act enables students of different political, philosophical, and religious beliefs to conduct meetings on these bases. This means that Christian students can participate and share their views within a Christian Club without fear of retribution as can students of other faiths.

Don’ts

1.   Don’t be biased.

Even if you, as a teacher, are an adherent of a particular faith, you should not impose these beliefs on your students. This means you cannot insist that your students do or not do something because it’s in accordance with your beliefs. When teaching about the different faiths, you should not give any more importance to one than the other. The goal is to provide students with an understanding of the various religions, not to propagate a specific one.

2.   Don’t celebrate religious festivals.

This point may be controversial in some people’s eyes, but for the sake of unity, it would be advisable if schools steered clear of religious festivals altogether. This is because, in an environment with people from different cultures and beliefs, some people are bound to feel left out. Some schools embrace this in different ways. For example, some schools celebrate “Turkey Day” or “Fall Festival” instead of Thanksgiving Day. Today, most schools call it “Winter Break” rather than Christmas Day or Break, as in the past.

Conclusion

There is a misconception that if someone does not agree with you, they are automatically opposing you. Just like the metaphorical situation where two people look at figure 6 from two different directions. To each one, it appears right. The world needs students to grow up to be adults who are tolerant of one another. To shed the prejudices they hold and to accept that there will always be people who don’t see things the same way as they do, and that it’s okay.

The teachers should strive to create an accommodating environment for students to express their faith through performing practices and wearing symbols related to their faith, however, students should not do anything that is discriminative or disruptive to their fellow students because of their different faith, and they also should never coerce other students into or against specific faiths.

Here is some related reading for you: Should Creationism Be Taught in Public Schools? Is it Legal to Do So?

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Author Bio: Jonathan Brown is a devout Christian and a part-time teacher. He enjoys teaching students both in and out of Church about the Good News and breaks down complex concepts into simple lessons they can easily understand. He is also a contributing writer at EssayService.



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