- Ana Triculescu
Should teachers be aware of their students’ religious beliefs, or should that be kept private and out of classroom discussions?
We live in a highly diversified world. With borders opening up more and more each day, we tend to lose track of who’s who and where they come from. Even if we’ve lost or choose to leave behind many of our deepest national/cultural/lingual characteristics, we often have a hard time giving up our values and religious views.
Latin American countries, specifically, tend to be very aware of religious beliefs, and tend to base much of their social life and political decisions on religious views. Often times, in conflicts between political parties, or the government and its people, a representative of the Church comes in and tries to mediate the argument. Sunday mass and religious holidays are sacred, and society has the tendency to label as outcasts those who do not share mainstream religious views. This also affects classroom behavior and the education basis.
I’ve once attended a training session for English teachers (public school teachers in a sector of Panama City, Panama). The entire session (2-hr long) developed around the text of the Old Testament, direct quotations from it, life lessons, and analysis. Not one note was made about English-teaching methodology or academics. On the other hand, tips were given on how to “bring God into the classroom” and how to start each class with a prayer in order to receive holly blessings. But in that case, what happens to the Muslim/Buddhist/protestant kid who sits at the back of the room and is ignored by this whole ritual?