One Teacher at a Time

This week marks the first offering of Tanenbaum’s professional development course for NYC public schools teachers, Religion and Diversity Education: Cultivating Global Citizenship.  As I write,  venerable Manager of Programs Mark Fowler is with our trainees working with them through some pretty challenging concepts…

…like “Christian privilege”* and understanding what it means to be a global citizen.  Citizens of where? How is citizenship subscribed?  Who is the “us,” and who is the “other”?  How do we work around and within the multiple identities we all carry?

It was really exciting to listen to the participants engage, grapple with some tough questions, and come up with potential lesson plans on the fly (hopefully you’ll see the fruits of some of those ideas on our sample lessons page soon!).

Our EVP, Joyce, also jumped into the fray this morning with an overview of what the law allows teachers to teach about religion (the shorthand: you can teach about but not support or privilege any one religion over any other) (and you definitely can’t preach or proselytize!) as well as the extent to which students are allowed to practice their own religions at school.  The latter is pretty well-defined at this point, but the former is still surprising to a lot of people.

We’re all looking forward to seeing what comes out of this week – new ideas, new lessons, new ways of approaching religion and multicultural education.  And we’ll be doing it all over again this summer (join our mailing list to be notified of new dates and registration deadlines/instructions), and you can be sure that the new batch of participants will take the training off in their own direction and come up with completely new ideas.  It’s one of the most exciting parts of Tanenbaum, the way things organically evolve.

I’m sure Mark will jump in – one he’s fully recovered; this course is 5 days a week, 6 hours a day – with the nitty gritty, so stay tuned.

*For a great primer on Christian privilege, check out Lewis Schlosser’s Christian Privilege: Breaking a Sacred Taboo. There’s some other great downloadable reading on tanenbaum.org

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