Teacher Tips > The State of Religious Education

The State of Religious Education: It Isn't Too Late…Yet!

Teacher Tips

Religious Education is a subject like any other, thus all children should attend its class without any exemptions. But sadly that's not the case in most schools.

Either the teachers of this subject are so incompetent that students end up confused rather than fulfilled at the end of the classes, or sometimes parents remove their children from religious education classes due to fears of their being "brainwashed".

It is every teacher's duty to discuss beliefs - secular as well as religious. Religion should be taught, like science and humanities, by competent people with a passion for their subjects. But just like science, a he teacher handling religious education should cover all the aspects of religion thoroughly. Teachers should develop appropriate lesson plans according to the age and study skills in their classroom.

In fact, religious education must include a brief preview of all major religions. This will not help widen the knowledge gap but also promote an air of peace. Studies have found that familiarization with previously unknown things reduces fear for them and thus reduces conflict.

Taking parents in confidence is also very important. They should believe in you as a competent teacher who knows what they are doing. It has happened too many times when an actively atheist parent has removed their child from a religious education class because they didn't want their being brainwashed by religion. Their concerns are understandable.

However, the scariest thing is when a devotedly religious parent does the same for exactly the same reasons. They simply wouldn't want their child's brain corrupted by another religion. In short, both groups of people think that their children are at some kind of risk.

These kinds of issues arise when all religious teaching centers on only one type of religion. In such cases the teacher is also overtly religious, almost to the point of being scary.

Teachers should be able to give information impartially. The perfect religious educator is impartial with no concerns about any set of religious beliefs. He or she should simply remember that a teacher of science or humanities can't do justice to their subject by always describing it in a positive light. There are good and bad sides to everything, and should always be taught in an objective light. Critical thinking is essential.

No matter what religion you teach, as a teacher and educator, it is your responsibility to make sure that your students are completely aware of and comfortable with the subject matter.

Even if you haven't had any training for teaching education, the Internet is abound with teacher resources, worksheets and lesson plans for all denominations of Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and all the other major religions.

The Congregation for Catholic Education has called on public authorities to value the religious and educational freedom of parents in school curriculums. Only you, as a teacher, can make sure that the parents' religious beliefs are well respected, and that is by teaching their kids religion the right way!

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