Religious book in Classroom library (Public School)

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Unbeknownst, Aug 2, 2010.

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  1. Unbeknownst

    Unbeknownst Cohort

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    Would it be okay to include religious books in the classroom library at a public school?

    The books wouldn't be taught, just available to read for extension activities.
     
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  3. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    I don't see why not. Teaching about different religions is perfectly okay, at least in my experience.
     
  4. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Could you give me an example of what you're thinking?
     
  5. Unbeknownst

    Unbeknownst Cohort

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    Complete Guide to the Bible by Reader's Digest.

    Bhagavad Gita

    A History of the World's Religions

    The Upanishads

    The Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha

    The Way of Life, Lao Tzu

    Stuff like that.
     
  6. sweetlatina23

    sweetlatina23 Cohort

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    I dont see why it would be a problem. Some social studies classes cover different religions and cultures. As long as you dont have just ONE type of religion and keep it open, I would think its okay.
     
  7. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Absolutely, my students read excerpts from the bible, Koran, and Torah for my Western Civ. classes.
     
  8. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    same here; I actually teach a very short comparative Religion unit. The only thing I would make sure is that the books stay in a library setting and not on your desk.
     
  9. Brendan

    Brendan Fanatic

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    Haha, my copy of the Duct Tape Bible, I believe sits on my desk.
     
  10. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I think that giving kids access to a variety of religious philosophies is absolutely part of a well balanced education.

    Teaching one particular religion as "the one" is not part of a public school education. But explaining how people see religion can only breed tolerance.

    I can't imagine how or why it would be an issue.
     
  11. yarnwoman

    yarnwoman Cohort

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    :yeahthat:
     
  12. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    With that kind of variety, I'd say it should be okay.

    Teaching about religions is legal and generally accepted. Even elective Bible classes are allowed in high school, and the ACLU has a guide on how to run them. A lot of the issues regarding these classes are over which version of the Bible is selected, so parental reaction to that is what I'd worry about the most.
     
  13. Rachael84

    Rachael84 Rookie

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    There would be lawsuits left and right here in NY. It wouldn't fly here. Religion shouldn't be in school at all, except in parochial schools.
     
  14. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    Hmm... So we should alter and censor history Atheism and Secularism are beleif systems. No matter what you are going to have some type of beleif-system involved in school. I do agree I don't want a teacher trying to convert my kids, however I don't want a teacher to convert my kids to Atheism or Secularism.

    It wouldn't hurt to ask an administrators. I know that in some schools the parent backlash would be a pain.
     
  15. Rachael84

    Rachael84 Rookie

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    I teach in NYC, and we aren't even allowed to have holiday parties....really just Thanksgiving and that's it.
     
  16. INteacher

    INteacher Aficionado

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    That's different than teaching about religion. Religion is one of the six features of a civilization. I teach about religion in my World History class starting about the second week of school. One of my standards requires me to teach a unit of comparative religion; Christianity, Judisam, Islam, Hindu, Buddahism (not really a religion in historical terms but a philos.) I also teach the Reformation which for many lessons sounds more like a history of the Catholic Church. I also teach the 10 commandments as an historical document which established the Jews as the first monothesic religion. So I would say any history teacher really teaching history in NY or anywhere has to teach religion.
     
  17. Rachael84

    Rachael84 Rookie

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    Well that's acceptable if you're teaching it as history.
     
  18. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    What grade are you Unbe? In high school, I know we read a story from the Old Testament as a piece of literature with no problem or controversy...not sure how New Testment or Qur'an would fly though:blush:...kind of depends on your school climate and your administration.
     
  19. Unbeknownst

    Unbeknownst Cohort

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    I'm 9th and 10th grade.

    And the climate where I live is highly Catholic.
     
  20. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    I think you can teach it as part of culture/traditions as well. We have Social Studies standards that ask us to compare traditions/holidays. I'm a very firm believer in separation of church and state, but I think there's a real difference between celebrating your religion and teaching about all religions. In December my classroom library has books on Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas, etc. I think that's different than holding up one religion and saying this is what everyone should believe.
     
  21. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    Public schools may legally teach about religion as long as it is approached in an academic, rather than devotional, manner. That's not to say there won't be parental backlash from certain things. If you're in a highly Catholic area, your backlash is more likely to come from Catholics if you're using a Protestant Bible (I have no idea what model the Reader's Digest one follows).*

    :sorry: Though kind of off-topic, I can't let ms.'s statements just stand. Atheism and secularism are not belief systems. Atheism refers only to lack of belief in any deities (and thus is not a "system"), and secularism to the separation of religion and school. It would be quite consistent to be a Christian and a secularist, for example. If these ideas bother anyone, PM me and I'll give a thorough and polite explanation.


    * There have been lawsuits where choice of Bible was one of the primary matters in contention, and administrators were sending snarky emails referring to the other side as "heathens".
     
  22. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    That's not what I'm saying. There's a difference between celebrating/promoting something and teaching facts. I'm saying you cannot teach history, literature or really any subject (and toss all beleif systems out the window) without censorship.
     
  23. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    What you are explaining is a belief system. A lack of belief, is a belief in itself. I could also say: Judaism is a lack of belief, they lack belief that there is not a Supreme Being. (Also, no offense meant, many Christians I know would not agree with your belief that Secularism and Christianity are compatible.)

    Atheism and Secular Humanism have been consistently recognized as religions in American courts. The Supreme Court ruled in the 1961 case of Torcaso v. Watkins that "secular humanism" was a religion. If you would like more information feel free to PM me. ;)
     
  24. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    There is also a difference between teaching religion and having some non-fiction books about different religions in a classroom library, especially in high school.

    If kids are interested in reading any of the books the OP listed in her post, then they'll pick them up. If not, they won't.

    I have books about different religions in my CL, but they rarely get looked at.
     
  25. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Secular humanism may be a religion. Secularism is not. I identify as a Methodist-flavored spiritual secularist. Secularist only because I feel strongly about keep religion out of government and keeping government out of religion. Atheism is not a belief system. It is a lack of theism, or a lack of belief. It's hard to systemize and give rules to something that, by definition, doesn't exist!
     
  26. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I don't teach social studies, so I may be wrong here.

    But how do you teach history without including religion?? How do you do the Crusades, or the Protestant Reformation? Do you just not discuss Budhism when you do Asia? How do you discuss the founing of Pennyslvania? Or the Pilgrims? How about the Civil Rights Movement and Reverend Martin Luther King?

    How does an English teacher teach The Scarlett Letter or the Canterbury Tales-- nevermind Sinners at the Hand of an Angry God.

    It seems to me that if you exclude all mention of religion, your kids are getting an incredibly limited education.

    The OP never said he was going to preach a belief system, merely give his students access to books on a wide variety of religion. I think that's responsible teaching.
     
  27. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    "It is a lack of theism, or a lack of belief." Jane lacks a beleif that there is a not a greater being. Is this a lack of beleif? Do any of you have any logic skills?

    Atheism has been ruled and considered a religion in the US court system. I don't feel like spending 10 minutes pulling up the specific cases from my legal notes. I'm too tired. If you want to find them, just do a google search.
     
  28. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    Let's make sure this post doesn't go off topic. It's not about debating religions, but about having religious texts in the classroom. There is a difference. Also, let's please be sure we avoid personal attacks.
     
  29. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    As the parent of a high school student, I see no problems with having books on a wide variety of topics available in the class or school library. If you are unsure of your community reaction, Unbeknownst, check with your principal (you have a postive relationship) or a colleague.
     
  30. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    My (public school) classroom came with a Holy Bible, but no other religious texts.
     
  31. Geauxtee

    Geauxtee Comrade

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    I am putting my classroom library together and I may include this fiction book about a girl joining a Christian Rock band and surrendering her life to God. It's not my cup of tea at all, but I could see some liking it. I will probably check with my department head first though...

    Doesn't tons of teen/juvenile literature have a religious message anyway?

    Chronicles of Narnia -- The resurrected Aslan is an allegory of Christ.

    The Golden Compass -- supposed to be an attack on the Catholic church.

    Twilight -- written by a Mormon housewife. The whole book promotes abstinence till marriage.

    You're there to provide reading materials and critical thinking skills. I am going to provide a wide variety of fiction/non-fiction. I am also going to provide them with the critical thinking skills to help decipher those messages. I am not there to promote religion, but I understand some may prefer to read religious texts (like the Christian rock band book I described). I am not trying to promote religion, just trying to make a wide variety of viewpoints/texts available.
     
  32. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    Jainism is a religion that is atheistic (a meaning no, theistic meaning God belief). So Jains are religious and atheist at the same time. They adhere to a set of beliefs that are unique to their religion.

    Ms., theism and atheism are not religions. Atheists, religious or not, are protected under law from being persecuted because of their lack of belief in god(s), just like theists are protected from being persecuted because of their beliefs in god(s).
     
  33. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    It is still a belief. A belief that there is no supreme being, first cause, god/s.

    A beleif is a "conviction of the truth of some statement or the reality of some being or phenomenon especially when based on examination of evidence." Atheism is a beleif.

    Region is "a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith." If they were agnostic, I wouldn't argue that to be a religion. However Atheism is a cause/principle held with ardor.
     
  34. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    belief* = )

    Well, we say "one Nation under God..." heh

    I've learned to "do it and ask for forgiveness later" so, just include it in your library and if you later find out it's not acceptable, just "ask" for forgiveness = )
     
  35. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    My spellcheck isn't fixing belief, I don't grammar check online. :D There is just not enough time.

    *It's a pretty bad mistake, so I fixed it. :)
     
  36. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    To Mrs. We'll just have to agree to disagree about all of these definitions. We're both coming from different backgrounds, and each side uses slightly different definitions. I've been involved in several panel discussions and attended many, many lectures on this topic (I've been on a bit of religious-and-lack-thereof tolerance kick lately...) and the general consensus is that atheism is not a religion, but must be defined that way by the courts in order to provide certain religious rights.

    To TeacherApr, there are plenty of people who think that we should not say "under God" in the pledge. It was added fairly recently, and mostly to distinguish us from Communists. (I'm unclear how that works, as Communism is no more of a religion than Capitalism, no matter what definition you're using.)

    These touchy little issues are why we must be so careful when addressing religion in the classroom. Teaching American Lit, it came up pretty much constantly. I just kept waiting for someone to misinterpret what I was saying or only tune into two words I said (you know how kids do) and complain to mom or dad. I was always very clear to say, "This was written because the author believed X" or even "some people believed x." It's definitely something to think about.
     
  37. yourtreat2

    yourtreat2 New Member

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    Yes, Atheists are persecuted for their lack of belief in a Personal or non-Personal "god", not to mention spirits, goblins, demons, hell, heaven, satan, and the boogyman.

    You do seem to lack some understanding of the distinction between your Judeo-Christian notion of god and a Spinozan and other religions concept of a non-personal god. While Jains are effectively an offshoot of Hindus, they DO believe in reencarnation of the soul AND for that reason they wear masks (to avoid killing the poor souls of flyying insects, lest they reduce the "rank" of their own soul, and never be one with the ultimate godhead, and stop the cycle of reincarnation, having reached their final destination (our equivalent to heavan).

    You can research the entire non-personal god issue by googling Einstein, as well. Although, he ultimately was an Atheist, as documented in papers written in his own hand and auctioned off many decades after his death.

    Getting back to the REAL issue... it's not simpy a matter of the separation of "Church" and "State", nor "god" and "State". It is a matter of seperating any "religion" and "State". Not suprisingly, this would seem to favor Atheists. (That's a kick in the pants for most folks that would rather the Earth "still" be flat.)
     
  38. Unbeknownst

    Unbeknownst Cohort

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    Great. I appreciate y'alls input.

    I'll be including the religious books in my classroom library for extension activities. And, I'll be sure they stay in the library; you won't be catching me power reading any of my books in class ;)

    Besides, I've read them all anyway.

    Thanks everyone!
     
  39. ms.

    ms. Comrade

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    I'm more worried about what something is legality in my classroom than how it varies from individual to individual.

    I'm saying it is a beleif. No one answered my question... If a person who is Jewish does not believe that there is not a god; is this an unbelief or a beleif?
     
  40. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    My husband is an atheist. He would not judge his atheism to be a belief any more than his "belief" in gravity. He is a scientist, and he has looked at all of the evidence, weighed it, and judged that there is no supernatural power calling all the shots. It's not something he "just knows" or "feels" despite evidence to the contrary. It is rational, based on concrete and scientific evidence. I guess if he has any "religion" he would say that he has faith in the scientific process. Like I said, it's two very different world views, and people will define things differently based on their world view. I can understand that as a legal definition it was necessary to consider atheism a "religion" so that the right not to practice a religion would be protected under the Constitution.

    I'm way more concerned with how to present this in the classroom. When encountering individuals who had no belief system (I'm thinking this would mostly happen in literature, history, and science courses) I would present them by saying, if relevant to why we were learning about the person, that this person subscribed to no faith or religious doctrine.
     
  41. ChristyF

    ChristyF Moderator

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    I think the original poster has gotten her question answered, and we are spiralling into a religious debate. That's not the purpose of this thread, so I'm going to close it for now. Feel free to start a new thread on whatever topic you choose. :)
     
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