Moral Dilemma

Discussion in 'New Teachers' started by Sitri, Aug 17, 2009.

  1. Sitri

    Sitri Rookie

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    Aug 17, 2009

    I know this is likely a touchy subject, so I am going to try and be as respectful as possible while still honestly expressing my concern.

    I am soon to begin teaching as a science teacher. I have been accepted by the school and already have most of my things, but I am still waiting for my paperwork to be pushed through the district.

    Upon reading my teacher's handbook, I found out that at the beginning of every day we are to begin with a minute of meditation, followed by the pledge of allegiance.

    I do not subscribe to any religion; I hold a purely naturalistic world view. I feel that I am being complicate in promoting superstition and mysticism among the children by endorsing this. But at the same time, I do not want to make waves at my new school. I think a new hire in any position coming in and saying "I know this is how you all do things, but I am different" is just asking for trouble.

    Here is my case for saying so:

    It more or less common knowledge that the "moment of silence" is a way to get around the Supreme Court decision barring mandatory prayer in public schools. Everyone knows this is what the time is for, whether the children choose to use it for that or not is irrelevant.

    And there was a time that I wasn't against the "under god" portion of the pledge of allegiance. That was when I thought that it had always been there and it was more a relic of history. I don't really believe in changing history just for the sake of being PC. But upon finding out that this was an addition in the fifties by the Knights of Columbus who undertook a champaign to make the US a christian nation, I have completely changed my mind with how comfortable I am with it.

    Both of these things seem to me to be a conditioning technique to cause children to unconsciously interject supernatural thinking into their natural everyday lives. I can't help but think of the movie Memento and the line "remember Sammy Jenkins, remember Sammy Jenkins." By constantly telling ourselves things over and over again we come to believe it more strongly out of habit. It is my personal opinion that this is why religiosity is so abnormally high in the United States among industrial countries. It is common to insert it into our meals, our sleep, our weddings, our funerals, our weekly lives, and our daily school lives. Most people don't really believe everything literally about religion, but the vast majority does subscribe to the basic mysticism because (I think) they are constantly conditioned, especially throughout their younger years, to do so.

    I don't expect everyone here to believe what I believe, but please acknowledge my right to these personal beliefs. So if one is building from the premise that I have "There is no supernatural of any sort," these daily (dishonest) repetitions that I will most likely be leading, are contributing to the brainwashing of children. I am really not very comfortable with it.

    I have spent countless hours studying and debating multiple religions, and I do not wish to do it here. I merely wish to express my moral dilemma of participating in an act that I find harmful to children because it is the standard operating procedure of my school. Maybe someone else here has some advice and/or has been in my shoes.

    Thanks
     
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  3. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    What kind of school are you teaching in?
     
  4. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    I think you're right in not making waves. I was very upfront with my students that I prayed during the moment of silence because they asked what I thought during that time; however, I told them that not everyone does this, and told them that they could pray, think about the day ahead, focus on what they would like to get out of the day, etc.
     
  5. scmom

    scmom Enthusiast

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    Couldn't a moment of silence represent a lot of things? Your affirmation of yourself and what you are going to do that day? A moment to relax and center yourself? A moment to focus your energies on the children? Unless you are telling them what to pray or think you are not brainwashing anyone.

    As to the Pledge of Allegiance, couldn't you just skip "under God" when you are saying it to show respect for your country but skip the religious part?

    You are going to be so busy teaching, I would worry about those bigger issues. How are you going to handle holidays and birthdays, by the way?
     
  6. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    I don't really see an issue here. I can assure you that while some kids are going to use this moment to pray, others will not. This sort of conditioning comes from home, not a minute here and there in school. If it is important for some people to have this time to pray in a personal manner, that is fine with me as long as their prayer is not inflicted upon me. When I subbed, I used the meditation minute to gather my thoughts or relax before starting the class. Half the kids mostly did things like root through their notebooks or similar. Some kids prayed. At any rate, it allowed us to start the class with a bunch of quieted down kids!

    I am sure this varies by community, and kids in very religious communities probably feel religious pressure from all directions (I've lived in those; recently I was berated by a woman in line at a Books a Million for buying a Nora Roberts novel without wearing a wedding ring). Kids in more diverse communities (like military areas, etc) are more likely to take it in stride, respect everyone's beliefs and do their own thing.
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think you're making a big deal out of nothing.

    I don't say the 'under god' part during the Pledge, and it's no big deal. Most of my students don't even notice.

    As for the moment of silence, why can't it just be a minute of silence? I don't think there's any sort of mysticism or superstition or anything going on when we ask students to pause for a moment and think about whatever they want.

    If I were your principal and you raised these concerns to me, especially if you were brand new to my school, I'd be like, uh....Calm down.
     
  8. MathManTim

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    Be very, very careful, particularly if you work for a school that is sponsored by a church, even if you work in a public school. You obviously have an extremely negative view of religious faith, but the vast majority of people do not.

    Just as you have a right to your beliefs, your students have a right to theirs. The last impression you want to convey is a condescending message of "If you grow up to be as smart as I am, then you, too, will learn to see belief in God as the silly and dangerous superstition I know it to be." It will lead to serious resentment on the part of some students, and especially their parents.

    If you teach science, then emphasize skepticism. Maybe refuse to accept "because God made it so" as a valid answer. Emphasize the continuing quest for truth. I would think that unless you teach at a school run by evangelical Christians (which, given your views, I would find extremely unlikely), I really doubt the subject of God will ever come up in the science classroom. At least, it never came up in mine in 8-1/2 years of Catholic schools and 3-1/2 years of public schools in a relatively conservative area.

    If you decide that part of your job description as a science teacher is also to debunk the religious beliefs of your students and their families--either through reasoned arguments, or, at the other end of the spectrum, through snarky remarks in passing--you will run into big, big trouble.

    I think scmom is onto something with simply skipping "under God" in the Pledge.

    G-Plus 11 hours, 45 minutes

    MathManTim
     
  9. WindyCityGal606

    WindyCityGal606 Enthusiast

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    Well said MathManTim...I second that emotion. Couldn't say it better myself.

    May I add, there are so many other practices you will encounter in the course of teaching that you may not agree with but if you want to be a team player and keep your job, you'll learn to not fight certain battles.
    Your personal beliefs are not written into your curriculum are they? So don't make it a big deal.
    For instance, there will be days when a coworker walks into a meeting wearing a hideous outfit. Will you turn your back and refuse to face her/him because you disagree with her choice of wardrobe? Please say no. Well, the situation you're describing as a dilemma is just as unimportant.
    This is not a moral dilemma as far as your job goes because you are not their parent. They belong to others whose job it is to teach them the family morals.
     
  10. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

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    You could explain to the students that the moment of silence to you is a way to prepare for a day of hard work. Then you won't have to feel complicit in anything. After all, you don't know what each child will be thinking in those moments.

    As for the pledge, say it in whatever manner is comfortable for you. You have no need to proselytize to the students or staff, but, also, no reason you have to justify your own beliefs, either.
     
  11. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I tell my second graders they may say the pledge and sing the patriotic song each morning with respect or they may respectfully remain silent. You could do the same.
     
  12. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Sitri,
    You have a right to feel any way you want. So do your students. Be aware, however, that in my state it is mandatory that we say the pledge and have the moment of silence. That doesn't mean YOU have to do it. The pledge is generally done over the announcements, and children who object for religious reasons do not participate. The moment of silence is required -- that everyone be silent -- but in my school I don't know anyone who does anything other than stand silently. I've never seen anyone pray. The kids at our school have no idea that the moment of silence has anything to do with prayer -- because it doesn't.

    Unless you are the grade level that is required to teach the pledge (in my state, that is 1st grade) then you don't have anything to worry about.

    All that being said, as long as you give the students the option to do it, I don't see the problem.
     
  13. Sitri

    Sitri Rookie

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    Aug 18, 2009

    Wow that was a lot of quick responses thanks everyone.

    I am sure I will grow more comfortable with it over time, I am just not really certain that is a good thing. A couple of main points I see repeating here a bit:

    -It isn't really a big deal.

    Perhaps, I don't feel that way but you may be right. Would it be a big deal if teachers were all obliged to take a minute every day to lead students in an affirmation that there is no god?

    -I should be focusing on other things.

    You are absolutely right. I have been spending time up at the school and reading at home while waiting for the district to finish their part of the paperwork. I would like to be as prepared as possible when I actually do begin. But unfourtunately I find myself losing focus a lot of times because my mind keeps coming back to this point that I don't feel I can properly talk about. Thanks for listening here, it has been a bit cathartic.

    - I can interpret and participate in the events in a secular way that goes unnoticed.

    You are right and I am sure this is what I will do, but I still feel complicate in corrupting young minds that trust me. I don't think that the prayer reminder or a couple mandated reminder words holds any power over me personally. I do however think that such constant reminders hold power over developing minds.

    (Personal anecdote about this last point that you can skip if you like, I realize everyone works different and my story cannot be used as a model for everyone.) I was raised Southern Baptist, church three times a week, many prayers throughout the day. When I got older, I decided it was arrogant to ask god for favors in prayers, so I weeded that portion out. After a while I decided that god couldn't possibly want me to repeat the same "you are great" type prayers all the time, he isn't so petty and this is simply understood by now. My prayers basically disappeared. More and more I stopped inserting god into my life and going to places that others inserted him, I soon realized that absolutely everything works the same with or without a supernatural force. I began to think more critically about the proposition, and decided that the only reason I ever believed any of it in the first place was just because people, including myself, kept routinely inserting it into natural everyday occurrences. That is why I view this type of repetition as a sort of brain washing, and I don't want to help do this to others. Sorry, end of rant
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think this is where the problem is. The moment of silence isn't an affirmation that there is a god. It's just a moment of silence during which time students may think about or not think about whatever they like. At our school, our moment of silence happens during the morning news show and there is a little ticker that runs along the screen with some profound quotation....I imagine that it is put there so that students may ponder that in the event that they don't have anything else to think about.
     
  15. Sitri

    Sitri Rookie

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    But the "under god" most certainly is a affirmation of god.

    And the moment of silence mysteriously appeared after prayer in school was deemed unconstitutional. I give the students the credit of knowing why it is there. Even if they don't feel inclined to use it for that reason, I think it still has a priming effect.
     
  16. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    So you don't spend money either? Because our dollar bills say "In God We Trust."

    Sometimes you just have to take the bad with the good. Do a lesson on the Pledge and its history, and let students decide for themselves if they want to include the 'under God' part. Talk about McCarthyism and Communism (which is I think where that phrase came from). Teach them. That's your job. It's not your job to decide for them or to judge them for what they/their families believe.
     
  17. FarFromHome

    FarFromHome Connoisseur

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    I don't see it as corrupting young minds at all. You're not telling them to pray or do anything except stay silent during the moment of silence.

    I agree with just leaving out "under God" when saying the pledge. Children should have the chance to do anything they want during the moment of silence. If you take that chance away from them, it could be seen as negative to others just as you see it as negative by having it there in the first place. I think it's best to explain things to the students and let them make their own choices.
     
  18. jd123

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    Just my :2cents:
    Not all prayers are like what you mentioned above. Some people pray that they become a better person, stronger to overcome weaknesses, are able to help make the world a better place, etc. Some might call that a prayer, while others might call that positive affirmations. I agree with other posters- use that minute to focus, center yourself, organize some thoughts.
     
  19. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    It seems to me that you have a real problem with that moment of silence. And that you're going to have to decide: is it worth quitting over?

    If it is, then do so with a clear conscience, knowing that this particular job simply wasn't the right fit.

    If it isn't, then resign youself to a minute every day of getting your dinner plans together or some other necessary organization.
     
  20. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I agree with Alice. I have to add this -- in our state it is required BY STATE LAW that we say the pledge and have the moment of silence -- so unless you can find a private school somewhere that doesn't do this, you would basically be eliminating any public school teaching job in our entire state. If districts accept state funding (and they all do) then they must adhere to the state mandate about this.

    If you are havng this much trouble with the pledge and moment of silence (which are very typical things in public schools) -- if they were such an issue, didn't this concern come up while you were training as a teacher?

    I also wonder then what are you going to do when the "Winter Show" turns into a Christmas Show (complete with Away in the Manger) or The Night Before Christmas? The school is always willing to include other religions, but they may slip things in that are very traditionally Christian. Some schools don't, but every public school I've taught in has.

    What are you going to do when the Black History Month program includes a dynamic guest speaker who opens with a group prayer (this always seems to happen)? Or when everyone rises to sing the Black National Anthem? (Many non-African Americans are at least shocked, if not offended, to find out there is a Black National Anthem, but let's not go off on that topic again -- we did that last year on this forum.) I personally just stand up and sing my heart out!!!

    I personally have a philosophical abhorence to circuses that have animal acts. If I refuse to take my students, is that fair to those who don't share my personal beliefs? (I always trade with an upper grade teacher, and have her take my class on that field trip, and I stay and teach her class.. but that is the compromise I can live with. My students are too young for me to explain exactly why I abhore circuses with elephant acts.)

    The pledge and the moment of silence are a traditional part of teaching -- so having to do them should not be a shock or a surprise to you. If you can't find a way to resolve yourself to this, then I don't think you are going to last very long -- because these types of things present themselves all the time in teaching.

    Our Muslim teachers do not say "under God" in the pledge, and our Jewish students will not write "under God" (they don't believe in writing the actual word "God" so they use a symbol.) That's fine. I would never force a student to say it or write it. My Jehovah's Witnesses all sit and do not participate during the pledge. That is fine -- I respect their beliefs. But that doesn't change the fact that it is a state law that the school says it each day.

    Why not join an advocacy group in your state to try and change the state law? To me, this would be the perfect way to "work from within."
     
  21. blindteacher

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    I agree with other posters in that it's probably best not to get things riled up as a new employee.

    I also see how inherently exclusive it must feel to those Muslim, JW, and Jewish students, not to mention non-believing students, etc. The fact that the state law does not consider them -- it can feel very hurtful for many kids to have to not participate in something for whatever reason.

    Unfortunately you cannot change state laws tomorrow so for now you will probably have to just resort to not pronouncing the words "Under God" and not praying during the moment of silence.
     
  22. Iteachtwo

    Iteachtwo Companion

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    I have to agree with JD 123. Rarely are my prayers the same as I have many people, situations, and concerns to pray about. However, I also agree with most of the posters, and would advise you to not make waves as it's only a few seconds out of your soon to be busy day. I think you'll realize how insignificant this is once you're actually in the classroom.
     
  23. Jem

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    Ah.... a moment of silence in the school day... and you're UPSET?? ;) Enjoy, and encourage the students to carry it on a bit longer than needed, just for the sanity factor.... ;)
     
  24. Iteachtwo

    Iteachtwo Companion

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    Good point, Jem! I never thought of it like that.
     
  25. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    If it's labeled as a "moral dilemma" my guess is that it's more serious than just enjoying the peace and quiet.

    Sitri, only you can decide whether or not this is a deal breaker. But, as someone else pointed out, it's very likely that you'll face something similar in most schools.
     
  26. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    I totally respect that this is a big deal to the original poster. I think people here are trying to point out ways to deal with it -- not mimimalize it.

    However, Sitri, if you can't deal with it, you have two choices. Go to your administrator and risk being seen as insubordinate or find another job in some charter school that doesn't accept state funding. Realize you will be seen, more than likely, in a negative light, and that this is how you will start out your first year. This will be a very hard road for you, since the year of a 1st year teacher at a new school is always difficult -- and this will make it about 10X that. It will come out in subtle, unexpected ways -- none of which you will be able to directlly link to your refusal to comply with the school's directive. There will be a very high chance that this will so negatively impact your first year experience, that you will not succeed, no matter how hard you try. However, if your convictions are as firm as you indicate -- if this is such a major deal to you that it cannot be 'dealt' with by any of the suggestions above, then I guess you must simply realize what you are in for.

    Be prepared, however, for the negative reprecussions. Many great people in our society did what their hearts and consciouses required -- despite losing jobs, losing opportunities, going against the cultural norm, etc. If it is that important to you that you are willing to risk your success at your job (remember, they don't have to give a reason to terminate 1st year teachers -- a simple "it isn't a good fit" is all that is required.) but if it is this important to you, then by all means, refuse to do it, defy state law, and endanger your job. You will have the strength of your convictions to live on. I applaud that. Just make sure you have a back-up job, because while no one will come right out and say "We let you go because you went against the grain" many schools will let you go for "other" undisclosed reasons. If you are willing to risk this, then stand firm!

    Good luck!
     
  27. 100%Canadian

    100%Canadian Companion

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    North of the border, we don't have a moment of silence or prayer in school (though there is a Catholic school system here that would have prayer and religion as part of their day). Our morning routine consists of the national anthem and morning announcements. I guess the sticky point for Canada is that part of our anthem is "God keep our land, glorious and free" and when you consider the multicultural nation that we are, with people of varying degrees of faith, it could be an issue too. However, it isn't.; at least, it doesn't appear to be. I encourage my kids to sing the anthem for the sake of appreciating a free country and what it has to offer. So "God" appears in the lyrics - there's more to my patriotism than that single word and if kids don't sing, for religious reasons or otherwise, then so be it.

    I too had one of those personal crusades earlier in my career. Let me preface this by saying I respect all cultures. I've had Jehovas Witness students in my classes over the years not observe the national anthem because JW's don't observe symbols or celebrations. It irked me that in a nation such as ours, one could not put religious beliefs aside for the sake of respecting the nation for 61 seconds. While I could have waged war with parents over this, ultimately, I let it go. Call it defeat if you like but in the bigger picture, there are more important things in teaching to focus my time and energy on. Besides, I found other ways to promote what a great nation we are, just as teachers in America likely do as well.

    As many have already said, you have to pick and choose your battles. Personally, you'll have too many other battles and challenges in this job to take care of. One minute isn't worth the struggle if you ask me.

    Good luck with whatever you decide.
     
  28. trayums

    trayums Enthusiast

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    I agree that I would not make waves. We also have a moment of silence each morning before the pledge. I take that moment to take a deep breath.
     
  29. historygrrl

    historygrrl Rookie

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    I, too, am uncomfortable with the "under God" portion of the Pledge. I just don't say it when reciting it and I don't think anyone has ever noticed.

    As far as my students, I require them to stand up for the Pledge, but I don't make them say it. It's their choice to say it, but I do insist they at least show respect by quietly standing while others recite it.

    A few times a year, there is a moment of silence. I just stand there quietly and expect the students to do the same. What they do within their own heads during that time is their business.
     
  30. amaryllis

    amaryllis Rookie

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    One thing to remember is that if kids are praying without your prompting, that's something that their families and greater community have instilled in them. You don't need to feel complicit in any way. In fact, you can possibly use the opportunity to connect with your students and ask them what they use their time for (this would have to be a voluntary discussion). The diversity of thoughts they would very likely express would be a good way to educate other students about alternative viewpoints. Perhaps I'm being idealistic, since where I live seems to be about half Catholic and half secular (with little other Christian and Jewish in between). Personally, we don't have a moment of silence here. But if we did, I'd be really interested in using it so that the kids could be exposed to a wide variety of viewpoints and thoughts. In the same way that you've had good religious conversations, sometimes kids can too. All this should help increase early critical thinking about religion rather than objecting to through the lens of a well-reasoned adult. Do you see what I'm getting at?

    Definitely pick your battles. I've thought about this a lot since I may wind up teaching at Catholic school here and frankly, am not Catholic. However, it doesn't bother me, as a person of other faith, to teach the values students already hold OR that their parents hold if necessary. If it's just more mythology to me, that's alright, as long as I maintain a level of respect toward others, nonjudgement, and don't press my views on them.

    I'm Hindu (raised this way...parents were classic flower children and lived in India...overtime I came to believe what I did). I would never impose my beliefs on anyone! Including a skepticism for another religion (something I don't really have anyway since I do believe all religions, including atheism, are perfectly valid).

    Use the time as a heuristic moment. Consider if you are imposing your values on others. Think of how you can create dialog. Realize the world is deeply multicultural.

    As for the pledge, skip the God bit if you don't believe in it. That's definitely constitutionally protected. In court, you do NOT have to swear on a Bible. If anyone asks why you don't say this part, you can really just say, "God is one kind of belief and I have an another. It's important to know what you believe and stand by it."

    I used to participate in a lot of community building and activism, working with everyone from Quakers to Buddhists to radicals to different political parties. The overriding thing is to never impose your views on others or you're doing what you are opposed to most. Unless your agenda is to promote a particular religion or anti-God-ness, which is not the role of a school teacher. Your role is to educate, socialize, and foster thinking skills.

    I hope that doesn't sound like I'm proselytizing myself. I'm sure I understand where you're coming from in many ways. But respect is the key and it's a two-way street that is still filled with many head-on crashes.
     
  31. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    You aren't the parent of these kids. You don't have to say the pledge, you don't have to pray. You don't have to make moral decisions for your students when it comes to these two issues.

    You do need to show students how to be respectful of the beliefs of others.
     
  32. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    What puzzles me is...
    How can anyone not believe in GOD?
    HE'S THE MAN WITH THE PLAN!

    The beauty of NATURE all around us testifies to the fact that someone COOLER than all of us, created it all!

    Rebel1
     
  33. MissCeliaB

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    Aug 18, 2009

    Some people, like my husband, just don't. Some people, like me, aren't quite sure what we think about a higher power and the supernatural. Some people believe, and in a wide variety of deities, and express it in a variety of ways. That's just the way it is! We're all different! And thank (insert your deity or lack thereof here) for that!
     
  34. jd123

    jd123 Cohort

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    And isn't it wonderful that we live in a country where we can have different beliefs and points of view!?!
     
  35. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    :agreed: very well put shouldbeasleep - the children you teach are just as entitled as you are to their beliefs and opinions on the moment of silence and saying the pledge. I always seem to have a few students who do not stand up for the pledge; their right and their choice; and it has NEVER been a problem in my class.

    So IMO, it is not your place to worry about corrupting children by particpating or watching children particpate in a moment of silence. The moment of silence is a choice the students make and it is not about you. Same goes for the pledge - not about how you feel. Your dilemma is your own.

    And as a parent, I would be very angry if you used the moment of silence to share your beliefs with my child regardless if those beliefs are christian, hindu or athesim. As a previous poster stated, you are there to teach. I teach a comparative religion unit which includes agnotisic, atheist, buddhism, hinduism, islam, christianity, judism, and a few others in order to expose my students to as many belief systems as I can.
     
  36. Sitri

    Sitri Rookie

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    A few of the later post have mentioned words along the line of "It is not my place to make those decisions for the students." I agree with that statement 100%, but not the conclusions that accompanied it.

    My problem the whole time has been that I don't want to address this issue. I feel leading a recitation of faith and a (technically non-prayer) prayer is de facto telling them I am endorsing it and priming them to endorse it. I would much rather stick to the science and these issues never come up. The fact that it does come up as a mandatory daily action, makes me feel the need to clarify it so I don't feel like a malicious liar.

    I think my course of action will most likely be to go through the motions, but do my best to make it perfectly clear that while both items are compulsory for me as a matter of policy, they are not compelled to take any action whatsoever, save being quiet for the sake of others.

    Earlier the question came up "Didn't this topic arise in any of your education classes previously?" No. I start my Master's of Education next month. My undergrad is in biology and business admin. I have no teaching background. From my limited personal experience here, most "highly qualified" science teachers do not start out with education degrees.

    Thanks for the input everyone. I think I am about as comfortable with this as I am going to get. I really needed to bounce my thoughts off someone else.
     
  37. mrsnikki

    mrsnikki Companion

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    Aug 19, 2009

    Strange..because it seems to always come up in my science class!!! I always think it is interesting how many kids are thinking about it.
     
  38. krysmorgsu

    krysmorgsu Cohort

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    You know, I think you may be worried for nothing. I don't know what grade you teach, but last year I had a senior high school homeroom. Not a darn kid in that class once said the pledge. Personally, this irked me, because I feel the pledge is a sign of respect for our country - for the men and women who have died for it, for the freedoms we enjoy, etc. HOWEVER, I had to put my personal beliefs aside because I can't force them on anyone. I did require that my students stood and were silent - like I said to them, would you go to another country and sit and chat while they sang their national anthem and such? I told them that, just like I have to respect that they might not want to say the pledge, they should show respect enough for others to simply stand and be quiet.
    The gist of my story is, you'll be surprised if you teach the upper grades with how few students will say it or use that moment of silence. If you feel that strongly against it, I guess you can choose not to enforce it to be a silent moment, and allow students to chat and do homework during the moment of silence and the pledge.
    I would not, however, under any circumstances, go to your admin about it if you want to keep your job. It can be a touchy subject, and I think you'll find that most schools do one or both. As others have pointed out, for many it's a state law -- and you standing up for your principles, if it's a law in your state, will get you nowhere - there's nothing your admin can do. The only other advice I can give is, if it's such a big issue, maybe next year see if you can be assigned a duty for homeroom period, instead of an actual homeroom. Then you really don't have to face the dilemma at all!
     
  39. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Aug 19, 2009

    Sorry, I'm going to have to disagree.

    If you feel strongly enough to take a stand, then do so. But don't undermine school policy. Respect for the pledge or belief in God aside, you'll be undermining your own authority and that of every teacher in the school. Rules are rules in school; either enforce them or work to get them changed. But don't ignore them.

    High school kids aren't stupid. If you don't enforce this rule, letting them chat or do homework, then every single rule you DO want to enforce is fair game. And the moment someone else tries to enforce the rule, they'll hear "But Mr (sorry, or is it Ms?) Sitri doesn't make THAT homeroom stand respectfully." Word gets out, and by the end of the first week of school, you're one of the teachers who shirks the job. And every single teacher in the building will know about it.

    Take a stand or don't, ask to be let out of having a homeroom if you want, but don't decide that school rules are optional in your room. It will, most assuredly, come back to bite you in the tush.
     
  40. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Aug 19, 2009

    I teach 2nd grade. Students learn the pledge in 1st grade, so by 2nd, they should know it. That being said, most of them are still saying "one nation, under God -- invisible" That always makes me laugh. Of course, I help them fix that.

    Don't laugh! Most of them really think that is what it says. Part of our social studies for the 2nd grade IS citizenship, which according to the definition requires students to "learn about their country's symbols" and "demonstrate love for their country." Part of my instruction IS telling them to stand up, face the flag, put their hand over their heart (not that hand -- your other hand! ;) No sweetie, your heart is on the other side... ;) )

    If they are JW and don't want to do it, that is fine, but unless they are JW or bring a note from home excusing them, they MUST stand up and say the pledge. Now, if they skipped the words "under God" I wouldn't make an issue of that. And while many teachers think it is okay to ask JW to stand respectfully, there are some JW who refuse on religious grounds to even stand -- and I've had two. I don't care if they stand (again, if they have an excuse, I'm fine with that.) I don't determine if that excuse is valid or not -- if a parent sends it, and it has the words I need to see in it (religious exemption) then I have no problem. Otherwise, I am required to teach it, and to make sure the students do it. To do less would shirk my responsibility.

    I did have an interesting one last year. I had a student who was NOT a citizen of the US. Obviously, she did not want to pledge allegiance to the US because her allegiance belongs to her home country, of which she is a citizen. (Her parent was a visiting professor at a local university on an exchange program.) I thought that was totally reasonable. She stood and was quiet, and that was fine. She also sang the National Anthem, but did not put her hand over her heart. I understood that, too. She loved being here in the US, but lived for semester breaks when she could go home to her country.
     
  41. rachaelski

    rachaelski Habitué

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    Aug 19, 2009

    I think a moment of silence can be spun in a way that is more equal for all/no religions or beliefs. I would present it as a time to "get their heads together" or to get ready for the day.

    I personally have a bigger issue with the "One Nation, under God." I believe in a god and have my own spiritual beliefs, but there are plenty of people who do not believe in a god. We are pledging allegiance to a country, one which was based on religious freedom, and not a religious figure. I spend US dollars, however I have also spent Vietnamese Dong, which features a president who is not respected by many Americans (though I LOVE Ho Chi Minh).

    I work at a Catholic school, so all points above a moot.

    I would pick your battles. If I was in your shoes, I would come to tears with the moment of silence in some way, my example above is my rationalization for myself.

    Good luck. Your points are valid and important and hopefully there will be some change in the national/religious divide.
     

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