Religion in school can be complicated. So teachers went to class

Interesting article title but I couldn’t read much because it is behind a paywall.

Even so, it brought a question to my mind: Rather than hold formal classes on “religion in school”, classes which are most likely quite expensive, why not produce an ebook or website that summarizes what Montgomery County administrators think every teacher should know about world religion? Then administer a test weeks later to see if the teachers have mastered the material. Lots of professions have CE credit systems (continuing education credits access online), such as for physicians and accountants, where they must satisfactorily complete and pass testing on various new skills updating topics.

Surely anyone who is a qualified teacher should be able to educate themselves on such a topic as world religions, especially if appropriate experts compile the key material.

It is easily summarized as “nothing” Teachers in America are not required to know anything about any religion as public schools in America must be secular.

Anyone who knows nothing about religion will have a very poor grasp of history, social studies, geopolitics, and civics—just to name a few.

Nevertheless, I was addressing the efficiency and effectiveness of teacher education, not whether or not the situation in Montgomery County is a problem in need of a solution. (And I was strongly implying in my post that I found this means of “religious studies” education questionable. Perhaps even silly.)


I don’t agree with that.

I remember when my son (then, a teenager) came home from school and told us that he had just learned about the Diet of Worms. That was part of a secular history class. But the history of Christianity is an important part of secular history.


Sure the Diet of Worms is part of a European History class that the High School History teacher should know about in order to teach the class. But it has nothing to do with the beliefs each religion has. Just that there were many wars and killings and upheavals due to religious intolerance through European History.

False. It had plenty to do with religious beliefs.

That’s like insisting that the geopolitics of the Middle East today has nothing to do with the history of Sunni Islam versus Shia Islam.


But how much do you need to know about the religious intricacies and details between Shia and Sunni to note that they have been killing each other for centuries over it?

How much more than a fight broke out over who was going to be the next imam and they have been killing each other for centuries. Same with Protestant and Catholic. A secular teacher would teach it as religious folly and religious intolerance between factions of the same religion. Pure madness. Does anyone see the same folly going on within Christian denomination over SSM?

No. A secular teacher should avoid attributing folly to religions.


But history isn’t just about simply noting that there have been conflicts between Shia and Sunni for a long time. It’s also about analyzing those conflicts and finding out what caused them, how they played out, and how they influenced subsequent events. You need to know something about the main differences (theological, cultural, social, etc.) between the two sects that could have contributed to any of these elements.


Or if you have Muslim students in your classroom and you can’t figure out why they aren’t just “getting along” 'cause all Muslims are the same, right? :roll_eyes:

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If you are doing your teaching properly, you shouldn’t even know the religion of your students. It is irrelevant to your job as a teacher in a secular school.

Dude, that’s not how education works, at least not these days. You spend a significant portion of your time dealing with interpersonal issues, familial issues, cultural issues, etc. If you don’t know the social/political/religious context of your students you’re going to lose them fast and cause yourself a lot of grief.


How much do you need to know about many centuries of French and German armies killing each other to understand WWI and WWII?

As an academic, I find it hard to endorse ignorance and apathy towards any subject related to people groups killing each others. To find solutions to such strife, one must understand the causes.


With all the social work you are doing, when do get the time to teach them Chemistry? I don’t recall any of my teachers getting involved into my interpersonal, familial, and cultural issues. I guess in my generation, the teachers had a pretty homogeneous class. Half boys and half girls. All white, from Christian parents who the teacher knew every detail of their families lives.

Who couldn’t agree with @AllenWitmerMiller here?

I suppose I’d say this has nothing to do with being an academic. As a human, how could we endorse such ignorant apathy?


Well, that’s why even at a teaching-focused school like mine I’m in the classroom “only” 12-16 hrs a week. Of course I stay busy with a lot of other stuff (mostly committee/administrative work, grading, research, etc.) but I also do a fair bit of mentoring outside the classroom too.

Even at a Christian university in the Midwest I have a much more diverse classroom (not just racially, but in pretty much all ways).

I’ve got to worry about the single mom (do I allow her to bring her kid to class when she can’t get a sitter), the vet (who may share inappropriate war stories in class or goes “dark” for weeks on end), those with mental illness (I had an alarming number of students this year who don’t sleep regularly, like for 24-48 hrs at a time, because of depression), those with full-time night jobs who don’t make it to my 8 am class more than a few times a month, those whose parents are in jail and they need to skip class to make court dates. Some days I’m amazed that this generation is getting an education at all. Of course it’s not everybody, many do just fine. But yes, teaching chemistry is sometimes the least of my worries.


You are to be commended for the fine job that you do. It is obvious to me that your are a dedicated and excellent educator. You certainly are making a positive difference in may young lives.