Religion in the classroom is a controversial issue and many educators find themselves in situations where different religions can be brought into the classroom. As an educator, how can we stay neutral to these situations?
Last year, I completed an Earth Science long-term substitute position at the secondary level. I was instructed to teach the Big Bang Theory and introduce to the students the creation of Earth. Many students were interested in the scientific explanation as to why the Earth was created by something smaller than a single atom. Some students, however, strongly believe in a specific religion and believe that the Earth was created by a God. I received many questions from students and a few argued my information. I had to simply explain to the students that the state requires educators to teach students about certain subjects. I was at that moment battling the question I mentioned above.
I grew up in a Christian home and believe that God created the Earth. I was torn when it came to this subject because it is against what I personally believe in as an educator. However, I tackled this situation by telling students that I strongly respected their views and how important it is to believe and follow your family religions, however, in class we must discuss and learn about the scientific explanations as to how the Earth was created. I discussed with students the information and how it will pertain to upcoming tests and quizzes and how the information will tie into higher education courses. I found that many students understood my explanation and were respectful of the information and did very well in the subject area.
Through this experience, I have found that I was able to neutrally instruct students about a subject area that can pertain to all students, regardless of their religious backgrounds. I think it is important for students to believe in the religion that they choose, however, follow the guided subject material that the state provides. It was a great experience that prepared me for the diverse beliefs that students bring to the school on a daily basis.