Module A: Building a Comfort Zone: Teaching about Religions in the Public (or Private) School Classroom (20-30 minutes)

Overview: The purpose of the session is to place teachers on confident, solid ground in the area of teaching about religion. By learning about the constitutional background on religion in public schools, and discovering that it is not only allowed, but required in most states, this workshop will give teachers the tools to counter the uncertainty of other teachers, parents, and even administrators. The First Amendment Center guidelines for teaching about religion are enumerated and their implications for classroom practice are introduced. Extensive documentation is provided on the workshop CD.

  • Constitutional issues and background of teaching about religion in the US
  • Is teaching about religion tolerated, encouraged, or required by states?
  • Principles and Guidelines
  • A standards-based framework for teaching about the world religions

Module B: The World in the Classroom: Structural context for teaching about world religions (20-30 minutes)

Overview: Most secondary content on religion falls within a few course types at the secondary level. Under the principle of “natural inclusion” this means content on Islam may be included in history, geography, fine arts and literature courses. Systematic discussion of world religions takes place in most world history or geography courses. This module presents four common course models and lays out their advantages and disadvantages for teaching a complex topic such as religion. Trends in the structure of history education and the scholarship of teaching and learning history are discussed in order to provide context for the subject of the content modules.

  • Types of courses where content falls and why does it matter?
  • What kind of course framework can best carry the load?
  • What are the trends in world history and geography surveys?