Religion in schools...What do you feel about religion in school. Including religious studies, the hijab issue in France and much more?!

Expert Answers
MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'll focus on the idea of religious studies. I would love to see a religious studies curriculum offered as an elective in public high schools. I think it would be a valuable addition to a well-rounded education; many people often know little about religions that are not their own. It may also be a great way for students to gain a greater understanding of their own beliefs. Religion is such a vital part of so many people's lives, and a class that encourages open discussion and study could serve to foster dialogue and compassion.

Of course, it would be a momentously difficult undertaking. It is an incredibly personal matter, and it would be a challenge to discuss religion without becoming an advocate, or without questioning students' faith (or causing them to question it themselves). I also think that many parents may feel that students are being "indoctrinated" (and in some cases, the students may feel that way too). That's why it would probably work best as an elective course.

Despite all these possible challenges, an elective religious studies course has the potential to be an engaging, enlightening piece of a foundational education. I think it's obvious from my tone that this is not in place at my site, but I'm sure many have stories of success. I'd love to hear from those who've had experience in teaching a similar course.

scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We used to have a World Religions class at our high school.  It was taught by a social studies teacher, and it was immensely popular.  Unfortunately, because of budget cuts, the class was cut.  Now, our social studies and English teachers try to discuss religion when appropriate.  I teach English, and my students and I discuss religion all the time.  It's impossible to have a discussion about philosophy and worldviews without religion entering the picture.  My students have found it refreshing to be able to talk about their religious or non-religious viewpoints in an open class, and in almost all cases, they respect each other's opinion.

In regards to teachers indoctrinating students, I have seen some of this, but to be honest with you it has been from a teacher who is an atheist.  He belittles Christianity, Mormonism, and Judaism, yet praises Islam (because he doesn't want to be seen as politically incorrect).  However, he is an exception at my school.  I have my own religious views, but most of my students don't know what they are because I simply facilitate discussions and play devil's advocate.  I simply want them to be able to define whatever their worldview (religious or not) is and to recognize that there are many other perspectives out there.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the public school where I teach, religious studies is already a part of the curriculum, just not its own class.  In World History, World Cultures, and Ethnic Studies, considerable time is spent on the belief systems of the major religions and a few minor ones.  Why this encounters no resistance in my mostly-Christian-fundamentalist school district is because the curriculum is just informational.  No missionary work takes place, nor does it call into question Christianity or any other belief.

As far as whether or not people should be able to wear head coverings in school, if it's for religious purposes, I say absolutely.  We either have freedom of religion or we don't.  Doesn't mean it has to be state-sponsored like prayer in school, but private student expression of religious beliefs is OK by me.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The World Religions course was also offered once at our high school, but cut when the teacher retired.  This course, one that the students who enrolled in enjoyed immensely, was informative and brought an understanding to students of differing beliefs. Such an understanding assisted them greatly in their readings in literature and history. 

During the Iran-hostage situation of President Carter's term, a tearful woman pleaded to the Iranians to return the hostages.  But, she based her plea upon Christian principles.  A course in World Religions would, indeed, have benefited her.

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that the idea of religion classes in high school is great.  But I think in order for these classes to be successful, teachers and students must able to teach and learn with respect and maturity.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure that this level of maturity exists for the majority of high schoolers.  In my public school experience, a religion class would have required prior teacher approval or personal recommendation to register for it in order for it to be full of students who would actually take it seriously.  Perhaps this is why it is best reserved for college level study.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that public schools should be careful about teaching religion, but schools should be accepting of all religions and honor children's religious practices.  I think allowing religious classes as an elective would be reasonable, as long as all children had the opportunity.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I wish religion was involved in the schools or at least an option for students to take religion classes in high school. Unfortunately, this is generally seen as politically incorrect. Religion is definitely being lost and I think it is sad.

picturesque | Student

Yes religion must be taught in the schools. I suggest that the basic teachings of all major religions which are rational and logical and are similar should be taught in the schools. And the problem of hijab(veil) in France is i think against the basic principles of human rights.I think there is so called 'freedom' in France as this act, of snatching personal freedom away, has shown.

jacobjinglheimer | Student

Being a student myself, I would love to see a religious studies class in my own school. Yes, religions are covered in history classes but there isn't enough time to learn about them in depth. This however seems to be impossible, as recent budget cuts have lead to the cutting of even more classes.