Though education wasn’t the hottest topic in religious news this week, with the media blitz around Obama’s health care bill and continuing violence in Nigeria, there were some interesting stories about religion and education that caught our attention (and more on those first two topics to come…).
Teaching about religion in the classroom:
American schools just can’t decide how much religion is too much when it comes to teaching about this oh-so controversial topic in classrooms.
In Texas, the Board of Education appointed six experts to review the state’s K-12 curriculum and determine whether more attention should be paid to religion in American history classes. Some argue that religion is integral to American history and must be included in the curriculum, while others believe it violates the separation between church and state. The expert panel split down the middle, so it will be up to the Board of Education to make the call.
To the north, the Idaho Public Charter School Commission is deciding whether using religious texts in classrooms must first be approved by the state Department of Education. The ACLU is reviewing the school’s plans to make sure they comply with the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause (i.e., separation of church and state, to put it somewhat simply) provisions.
Current law says that as long as teachers aren’t proselytizing, they’re free to teach about religion and even include religious texts in their lessons. Teachers often avoid talk of religion because they’re unsure exactly where the boundary line is, or for fear of offending students and parents – we hear it all the time in our work. Religion is a dominant aspect of identity for many people and huge component of history and culture; leaving it out of the picture entirely is detrimental to childrens’ educations. We’ll see how well Texas and Idaho walk this tightrope.
College major and religion:
Does your college major really make you more or less religious? Apparently it does, depending on what you’ve chosen. The University of Michigan released a study last week finding that being a humanities or social science major has a statistically negative effect on religiosity. Conversely, majoring in business or education has positive effect. What seemed to surprise most people was that majoring in biology or physical sciences does not have a negative effect on religiosity.
According to the authors, “Our results suggest that it is Postmodernism, not Science, that is the bête noir of religiosity. One reason may be that the key ideas of Postmodernism are newer than the key scientific ideas that challenge religion. For example, religions have had 150 years to develop resistance or tolerance for the late 19th century idea of Evolution, but much less time to develop resistance or tolerance for the key ideas of Postmodernism, which gained great strength over the course of the 20th century.”
In other news:
– violence in Nigeria continues: The Economist, The Wall Street Journal and Zenit all report
– LA Episcopal leaders nominate two gay clergyman as bishops
– The Health-Care Overhaul Creates Dilemma for Some Catholics
Have a great weekend!