Teaching Religion Effectively
A group of Bartlett parents recently had the opportunity to work with members of the board of directors of the Foundation for Consumer Education and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. in support of a bill to establish a national mental health center, or better known as a NCPLH program. In the past, state-funded programs for mental health had been largely overlooked. According to the Foundation for Consumer Education and Policy Research, a recent study showed that state mandated mental health facilities often did not meet standards required by the American with Disabilities Act (ADA).
According to the FCDC, state mandated facilities typically “do a poor job of serving the elderly and mentally impaired.” These statistics were revealed in a study conducted by the Rand Corporation, a conservative think tank. In order to improve the state’s ability to serve its citizens, the FCDC and other groups are calling on state offices to develop tiered plans that should include a religious element. According to the FCDC, the problem with tiered programs is that they tend to become “self-defeating” and create divides between and among religious groups.
- According to the FCDC, such programs that promote a sense of spirituality in people would be most beneficial.
- What’s more, such programs would help achieve measurable results without the divisive atmosphere that many current arguments have created.
According to the FCDC, such an approach “would likely foster greater understanding and appreciation of basic religious beliefs and practices.” Such an approach “could also foster greater societal cohesion and trust.” This would undoubtedly prove very valuable to those whose religious convictions have grown apart and who now feel threatened by their newfound neighbors.
Strategies for Teaching Religion Effectively
The issue of teaching religion effectively has received a great deal of media attention over the past decade. At times it’s been sensationalized, at other times ignored entirely. In reality, however, if religion is taught effectively, society would be a better place. Following are some proven strategies for teaching religion effectively.
First, people need to recognize the difference between private opinion and official government policy. Official pronouncements on controversial issues are almost always inaccurate, and they frequently feed into the very feelings that are causing the rift in the first place. Those who espouse particular religions should be careful not to use officialdom as a forum to promote their own beliefs. On the other hand, private citizens can often make insightful comments about religion that are relevant to public discussion.
Secondly, all forms of teaching should rely on well-crafted studies and case studies. A good teacher will take time to verify the facts he or she is presenting. Case studies provide great material for discussions. They allow students to draw specific comparisons and to draw different conclusions. This makes them particularly valuable for teaching social studies, philosophy, or history. In fact, social studies teachers often depend on case studies to begin writing their topics.
Finally, teaching will benefit from having an accurate understanding of cultural differences, as well as of individual religious traditions. Knowing when to engage the various traditions, and when to remain focused on the core beliefs, will help the teacher retains the attention of the class.
- Additionally, the effective teacher will avoid oversimplifying any complex ideas.
- When doing so, he or she risks making his or her topic seem too simplified.
- By providing a clear explanation and developing an argument, the teacher avoids creating confusion.
In sum, there are several key elements that need to be considered when teaching religion effectively. It pays to remember to begin with actual case studies and to employ sound studies, examples, and thoughtful discussions. Next, it pays to have an understanding of how various religions relate to the world as we know it. Finally, teaching religion effectively involves engaging all students and allowing them to draw their own conclusions. These aspects will ensure that any subject can be taught effectively.
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