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Author Topic:   Teaching of religion worldwide
Whirlwind
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 41 (255273)
10-28-2005 6:33 AM


Discussions regarding education always seem to revolve around the USA. I am curious to know exactly how religion is taught in US public schools, and how it compares to other education systems from around the world.

For example, in the UK we have Religious Education classes. In these we are taught about different religions of the world, and their faiths and beliefs are often compared (e.g creation stories). Religion is kept out of the biology classroom.

I believe this topic will try and bring an international perspective into these discussions. I have noticed that countries outside the US are never mentioned when the issue of teaching evolution/creationism in schools is raised!

This message has been edited by Whirlwind, 10-28-2005 06:34 AM


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AdminPhat
Administrator
Posts: 1971
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-03-2004


Message 2 of 41 (255297)
10-28-2005 9:02 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
jar
Member
Posts: 32965
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 3 of 41 (255314)
10-28-2005 10:17 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Whirlwind
10-28-2005 6:33 AM


First, you need to realize that in the US, there is no uniform curriculum. What is taught is determined on a state by state, county by county, city by city or even school by school basis.

In the US there is an additional issue. Since the majority of the schools are publicly funded, there is NO religious classes or courses at all. Most students get no introduction to any of the worlds religions outside their own particular denomination.

We had a thread on this not too long ago. You can read some of the comments here.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion

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kongstad
Member (Idle past 1531 days)
Posts: 175
From: Copenhagen, Denmark
Joined: 02-24-2004


Message 4 of 41 (255341)
10-28-2005 12:05 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Whirlwind
10-28-2005 6:33 AM


Denmark
The public schools in Denmark have Chritsianity as an obligatory course from 1st to 10th grade.

The official purpose of the course is (in a very fast translation from Danish


The purpose with the teaching in christianity is to make the students realize and understand, that the religous dimension is signifcant for the life of the individual, and the individuals relationsship with others

Part 2.The teaching is founded in chritsianity, as it appears in historic and current circumstances.

Part 3. The students must aquire knowledge of the biblical stories, and the understanding of christianitys import for the values in our culture. Furthermore, non-christian religions and philosophies of life must be taught, with the purpose of giving the students an understanding of other ways of life and attitudes.

Part 4. By meeting the different life questions and answers in christianity, and other religions and ways of life, the teaching must provide the students with a basis for personal and responsible action towards the fellow human beings and nature

Christianity is the Danish state religion, and our constitution specically claims that the Lutheran church is to be supported by the state, and that out monarch MUST belong to this church.

The education i public school may not be missonary in nature - no preaching by the teacher - but enlightening, by teaching the stories and values inherent in the lutheran faith.

/Søren

Danish Source


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happy_atheist
Member (Idle past 3574 days)
Posts: 326
Joined: 08-21-2004


Message 5 of 41 (255615)
10-30-2005 10:25 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by jar
10-28-2005 10:17 AM


First, you need to realize that in the US, there is no uniform curriculum. What is taught is determined on a state by state, county by county, city by city or even school by school basis.

University admissions departments must have a really hard time of it then!

In the US there is an additional issue. Since the majority of the schools are publicly funded, there is NO religious classes or courses at all.

How come there are no comparative religion courses? I understand that the seperation of church and state is important in the USA, but I wouldn't have thought comparative religion courses would fall under that umbrella as long as they were truly unbiased. Is it that people who ARE religious don't want their children being exposed to "harmful" knowledge from other faiths?


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jar
Member
Posts: 32965
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.4


Message 6 of 41 (255620)
10-30-2005 10:42 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by happy_atheist
10-30-2005 10:25 AM


Great questions
University admissions departments must have a really hard time of it then!

They do. But it's not all total anarchy. There are a couple standardized tests, the SAT and the ACT that set a defacto goal for accomplishment regardless of whether or not there is a uniform curriculum.

How come there are no comparative religion courses?

If you read the link in my former message you'll get a sense of some of the objections. IMHO they boil down to:


  • A fear (probably rightly) of proselytizing.
  • Economics. Where would the money come from?
  • Time. If we add another course we might have to cut something, like atheletics (God Forbid).
  • Value. Many people see no value in a Sacred Studies Course.

IMHO there is also no valid reason among any of those. We can point to many examples, for instance the UK, where each of those objections have been overcome.

I believe the real reason is that the vast majority of Americans, particularly the Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, hold such a weak personal faith that they fear it being challenged or compared to other faiths.


Aslan is not a Tame Lion

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Chiroptera
Member
Posts: 6916
From: Oklahoma
Joined: 09-28-2003


Message 7 of 41 (255628)
10-30-2005 11:10 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by happy_atheist
10-30-2005 10:25 AM


quote:
How come there are no comparative religion courses?

Besides the points that jar brought up, there is the problem that a comparative religion class would have to treat all religions equally, and that is sure to raise objections from the religious right.

There was a recent problem in some state (Texas?) recently where they did attempt to bring in a "religious studies class", but it was pretty thinly disguised evangelical Christian based "religious studies".


"Intellectually, scientifically, even artistically, fundamentalism -- biblical literalism -- is a road to nowhere, because it insists on fidelity to revealed truths that are not true." -- Katha Pollitt

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happy_atheist
Member (Idle past 3574 days)
Posts: 326
Joined: 08-21-2004


Message 8 of 41 (255629)
10-30-2005 11:11 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by jar
10-30-2005 10:42 AM


Re: Great questions
Here in the UK the religious education courses aren't particulary great (or they weren't when I was at school around 10 years ago). The teachers were simply drafted in from other subjects as it wasn't a very big course, and I never enjoyed any of them. When it reached year 10 (14-15 year olds) and it was time to pick subjects for GCSE (the ones we are examined in just before we leave school), I think only one person in my school picked RE, out of about 1300 pupils. Obviously the course couldn't go ahead that year. It was compulsory for the first 3 years of secondary school though.

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Brian
Member (Idle past 3620 days)
Posts: 4659
From: Scotland
Joined: 10-22-2002


Message 9 of 41 (255641)
10-30-2005 12:42 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by happy_atheist
10-30-2005 11:11 AM


Core subject
The problem with RME in scotland is that it is now a core subject, which means pupils need to take it for four years. 3rd and 4th year courses are really boring for most kids and as a result the ones who are interested do not get the full lesson time.

Brian.


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neil88
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 41 (335707)
07-27-2006 11:42 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Whirlwind
10-28-2005 6:33 AM


some observations
I have lived and worked in many countries and what worries me about the teaching of religion in many countries can be shown by a few examples.

In one African country I talked to some female friends and it became clear that they had no idea what their monthly period was. All they knew was that they had it about once a month and nothing more. They sat there listening intently as I explained the formation of the egg, fertilization and preparation of the womb for the egg etc.

Now these same women are very religious. They are 100 % certain that god exists etc etc. How is it possible for a person to be so lacking in basic education to be sure that god exists?

Another friend of mine who was classed as a company driver had no idea of how a car works. Yet again he was very religious.

How can such people on the one hand be lacking in basic education, yet feel they can comment on such a deep philosphical subject as the existence of god.

I discussed this with them and basically they believe in god because that is what they were taught and they would like god to exist because lets face it they are poor and uneducated and don't have much else going for them.

I think a good, broad education is the key to allowing people to think for themselves regarding the existence of god, evolution etc.
You have to know a certain amount to know what you don't know.

Fortunately I was educated in the UK ( some time ago mind you )and although much has been said about the education system in the UK, it was broad ranging and gave me the knowledge to be able to think for myself in areas such as god, creation and evolution.


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kalimero
Member (Idle past 1105 days)
Posts: 251
From: Israel
Joined: 04-08-2006


Message 11 of 41 (335747)
07-27-2006 1:29 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Whirlwind
10-28-2005 6:33 AM


In Israel, bible class is mandatory (from 2nd grade to the 12th grade), if you dont pass you cant get your high school diploma and, consequently, cant get a higher education. It almost stopped me.
We also learn about greek/roman (I dont remember) mythology, islam (a little) and christianity (a little).
I have never seen the science classes affected by religion in Israel.

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anglagard
Member
Posts: 2232
From: Socorro, New Mexico USA
Joined: 03-18-2006


Message 12 of 41 (335848)
07-27-2006 7:25 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Chiroptera
10-30-2005 11:10 AM


Odessa Texas Bible Class
There was a recent problem in some state (Texas?) recently where they did attempt to bring in a "religious studies class", but it was pretty thinly disguised evangelical Christian based "religious studies".

The specific case you may be referring to is the one in Odessa, TX, some 60 miles down the interstate from here. For more information:

shortened link

Yes, the problem is that the class is more about converting the students to the fundamentalist viewpoint instead of presenting a non-sectarian learning experience.

I'm not sure that a truly neutral class in comparative religion prior to college is even possible here. It will either be considered a threat to the personal inerrency assumed by the fundamentalists, or sheer high pressure propaganda to convert by everyone else.

ABE - sorry about the wide margins caused by the NYT link

Edited by anglagard, : margins

Edited by AdminJar, : No reason given.


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Nighttrain
Member (Idle past 2654 days)
Posts: 1512
From: brisbane,australia
Joined: 06-08-2004


Message 13 of 41 (335872)
07-27-2006 9:19 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by neil88
07-27-2006 11:42 AM


Re: some observations
In one African country I talked to some female friends and it became clear that they had no idea what their monthly period was. All they knew was that they had it about once a month and nothing more. They sat there listening intently as I explained the formation of the egg, fertilization and preparation of the womb for the egg etc.

With the misogyny (mysophobia?) that wanders through the books of the Big Three religions of the West, is it any wonder basic functions get a miss?


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carbonstar
Inactive Member


Message 14 of 41 (338487)
08-08-2006 10:44 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Whirlwind
10-28-2005 6:33 AM


I live in Texas and we covered "comparative relgion" (if you could call it that) my senior year in World History in high school. This coverage only lasted 1 class period and was not tested over. My teacher did not seem to have any personal bias on one religon, but I wish it was covered more so. At the University level of course you can study basically whatever you want which is great.

I think that they do fear that placing other religions on equal footing does make Christianity equal and "puts minds at risk" which is a horriably sad way to think.

Teaching world religon has many positive effects, probably people would be more aware and educated about what is going on all over the world. I know I wish I was educated about all this at a young age.


- "Only two things in life are infinate, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not so sure about the former." - Albert Einstein

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Phat
Member
Posts: 14672
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.1


Message 15 of 41 (338489)
08-08-2006 11:13 AM
Reply to: Message 14 by carbonstar
08-08-2006 10:44 AM


Six of One and half a dozen others
carbonstar writes:

Teaching world religon has many positive effects, probably people would be more aware and educated about what is going on all over the world. I know I wish I was educated about all this at a young age.

Me, too. I am becoming more and more discriminating about the sources whom attempt to teach comparitive religions, though.

As a Christian, much of my belief is faith based, rather than historically based.

It becomes a challenge to remain true to the teachings and yet remain true to the facts.

For example, Jesus rising from the Dead:

Is that a fact about Christian Belief or is that an aspect of the faith?

Some would argue that without a resurrection, you dont have Christianity.


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