Embracing Various Religious Beliefs in the Classroom

By Dr. Tracy Vasquez and Dr. Marjaneh Gilpatrick

students embracing religion in school

Embracing various religious beliefs in the classroom requires intentional thought and planning. This can be an opportunity for students to not only take pride in their beliefs and identities, but also a way to help foster respect for people with different backgrounds, traditions and beliefs. Knowing your students and curriculum can be a springboard to incorporating culturally- inclusive and responsive teaching in each content area. 

Teaching About Different Religions in Social Studies

To teach their followers about the tenants of their religion, the prophets would use stories or parables to illustrate a point or to make a concept comprehensible to them. As a classroom teacher, you can easily incorporate the idea of storytelling by having students research their own religion’s stories or legends and share them with their classmates. By doing this, you will also be providing opportunities for them to practice their listening and speaking skills.

Teaching About Different Religions in Performing Arts

Exploring music related to different belief systems exposes students to a variety of genres of music. Additionally, they will be able to learn about different traditions associated with religious beliefs. For example, you can collaborate with the school’s music teacher when studying different countries. You can have the students examine the lyrics of songs from those countries, research when they were written, and map those to the historical occurrences in those countries. Students could explore the racial stereotypes and equity issues that stemmed from those perspectives.

Teaching About Different Religions in Science

Advances in scientific methods and concepts can be traced to times in history when different religions were revealed to civilizations. For instance, the antiseptic properties of rubbing alcohol are associated with several individuals in history in Egypt, Iran and China. You can challenge your students to investigate when these individuals arrived at their discoveries and to trace them to the time periods associated with one or more religious dispensations.

Another way to examine the influence of religions’ practices is to compare the influences of Eastern and Western cultural views on health and wellness. You could challenge the students, to investigate current health trends such as intermittent fasting’s benefits and trace these to cultural and religious beliefs associated with fasting.

When you incorporate these ideas into your teaching and learning practice, you are not only teaching the content area standards, but you are also addressing the English language arts standards. When students read different texts such as lyrics from songs or they read a passage from the Quran or the Bible, they are utilizing their critical thinking skills to make meaning and connection to texts.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.