I'd read the comments on today's blog if I were you...
Before I officially begin today's post, I want to say that I'm glad you're here. I tried to direct all my students to this page tonight, but since I didn't assign it for homework, I'm sure a lot of them would rather... you know... do anything that's not "school."
I also asked them to go back and ask you what you believe. We covered some controversial topics today in class, and there were times the conversations got very intense. In fact, I was told they carried over into other classes, so I'm sorry if your kid got in trouble somewhere else... I think a stern look by Mrs. Higley was enough to bring them back in line.
Why do we study social studies? To understand one another. If we understand others - their successes and failures, their goals, ambition, and will... it will help us get along with each other, and understand ourselves.
Junior High students often see a lot of drama. I believe understanding others, and respecting others will cut down on that. And there's something to be said for picking your battles... some Jr. High kids fight every battle, which makes for a long school year. If you understand others, you probably won't have to fight them as much - or at least, you'll know when the time comes to legitimately stand up for what you believe in.
Part of understanding others is understanding what they believe. I've always assumed this is why the state of Indiana wants us to teach on the various religions. We've already introduced Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - but now we're getting a little more in depth.
In order to hammer the idea that Christians are a very diverse group, I asked my students a series of questions about what it means to be a "good" or "real" Christian. The questions ranged from baptism, to drinking, to modesty, to gay marriage and abortion.
Throughout the lesson, I tried to counter what students said with thoughts and arguments from the other side. As an educator, this is often difficult (albeit fun) to do, because I'm often arguing against the very belief that I hold. And through it all, I emphasized respect for the other side.
For instance, if a student believed a "good" Christian would oppose same-sex marriage, the opposing side wasn't allowed to call them bigots or haters. If a student believed a "good" Christian would favor same-sex marriage, the opposing side wasn't allowed to call them "nasty" or "disgusting."
I felt like that question was particularly timely, as Indiana is debating HJR3.
If you want the extra credit for reading and discussing the blog, find a scrap of paper, and write two short paragraphs. In the first one, tell how you thought today's class went. In the second one, talk about the discussion you had with an adult while reading this blog.
Have them sign the paper, and then turn it in tomorrow.