Religion is tricky when it comes to the classroom... especially when it comes to social studies. Indiana Standard 7.1.4 states: Describe the historical origins, central beliefs, and spread of major religions. (Individuals, Society and Culture) Example: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
I'd like to point out that is one standard. ...For 7th grade. One standard out of 52 such standards... Isn't that like, 6 undergrad credits right there?
Most years I teach the facts, dates, and names - but I've found there's no real connection with the students. So today, I asked a personal question: "Do you believe there is a God? If so, how does He (or She) want you to live your life? If not, how do you determine how to live your life? Please answer using at least 5 complete sentences."
We talked (at length in some classes) about the rights and privileges of living in the United States. We talked about religious freedom and religious persecution. We talked about respecting the rights of others while maintaining the integrity of our own beliefs. Overall, I thought it went really well, especially given the fact that we also reviewed the test and read a little bit of The Hunger Games.
I would also like to add that I didn't answer questions about my personal beliefs inside the classroom. While it's no big secret, I want the classroom to be as free as possible.
If you're reading this for extra credit, discuss the following questions:
How important is religious freedom in the United States?
Is it important to learn about other world religions?
How does religion impact our lives here in Indiana?
In order to get the extra credit, students have to bring in a piece of scrap paper signed by the adult they discussed this with. Grandparents/Parents/Step-Parent/Etc... by signing the paper, you're saying that you did read the blog and discuss it with the student that's bringing it to me.