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Ana Triculescu

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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?

Topics: education

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  • Mar 4 2012: Religion should remain like it should have. Every morning in School you stood up to listen to the National Anthem and then before classes started you said an Our Father and a Hail Mary. Now the Country I am in is predominately Catholic and if a student from another Country or Religion is not Catholic, then he or she should show some respect and still stand but does not have to say the prayer but can recite one of his or her prayers from their Religion. I am sorry if I sound a bit like a Religious bigot or even my National Athem being forced on to everyone. BUT you are in MY country and if you wish to become part of my Country than you should be proud to sing the National Anthem. What we used to do in our Schools was once a month another Religion could broadcast their prayer(s) and give everyone a view of their Religion, but it was good enough for last 100 or so years before people were ranting about their rights, but you have to remember, IF YOU DO NOT LIKE WHAT WE DO IN OUR COUNTRY THAN GO BACK TO WHENCE YOU CAME FROM AND HAVE YOUR ANTHEM, PRAYERS HEARD, but when in a new country, you have to forget about your old country and its ways, your NOT living there anymore, you are in a new country and you follow what that country has done for their fellow country persons. You want your religion from your old country than do it in your HOME and in your Churches, DO NOT TRY TO CHANGE my COUNTRY, its worked well before you came and will work maybe even better if you stopped pushing for rights that you had in your old country. The old saying, When in Rome, act like Romans, or WHEN IN YOUR NEW COUNTRY, ACT LIKE THE COUNTRY PEOPLE, keep your religion and ways of your old country out of our country, if we thought it was a good idea then we might have adopted it, if we didn't than there is a good chance we thought it was wrong, illegal, PREJUDICE (to women as an example). So please do not try to change my country, I like it the way it is and was.
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      Mar 4 2012: Wow! I think my whole idea was completely misunderstood or misinterpreted by your latest comment. "When in Rome, do as Romans do" - I think that quote is does not summarize at all the whole point of this discussion. I am not talking about any outsider here; I'm talking about the diversity within. Even if the predominant religion of a country is X, many other groups and people are Y, Z, A, B, C, etc. So, then, even the nationals of the country are divided. It has nothing to do with foreigners coming in; my point was trying to be directed towards nationals who may, at some point, be discriminated against because they do not follow "mainstream" or majority. I'm not trying to change anything, and I definitely don't preach against religion in schools. It's a great way to teach moral values. All I'm saying is keep it for a specific class. Now, on the other side of the coin, what if my teacher is Muslim? And she wants, just like my catholic teacher, to start class with a prayer. Would that be ok? Would you agree on the students learning Muslim prayers so they can pray at the beginning of each class with this teacher? I'm not saying is good or bad, but what would your stand be in that situation? Again, we're talking about all nationals here, no outsider or foreigner.
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      Mar 5 2012: Tom,

      Regarding prayer in school, guess you aren't a big fan of the separation of church and state.
      Or freedom of religion and freedom from religion.

      Surely kids from any faith or no faith should be able to get a state education without having the majority religion rammed down their throat.

      You may be alluding to Islam. Suggest it would be better to have conversation based on secular human rights - not religion versus religion. Christianity does not really advocate equal rights for women etc. I have to admit concern about medieval Islamic views infiltrating the secular society we have. Although your views seem to have missed most of the enlightenment.

      National anthem is another conversation.
      • Mar 15 2012: I am totally for seperation of Church and State, that I think is the only way that all Religions can work in a Country. As long as the prayers in the classroom are as neutral as possible and can be seen as okay for most Religions. I only mention Islam due to it being the Religion that runs the State in most Islamic countries and it seems to be a poor way to run a country We see so many examples of countries where Church and State are inseperable and are having issues because the population is seeing the other side of the road via the Internet. The Internet tends to be really restricted in countries where Church and State are one, and when the Internet is unrestricted than things change and in some case's, so drastic that the country is in disarray because the people see that Church and State as one has really restricted their worldly knowledge and that is very disheartening, because in most case's the people than want change and people die.
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          Mar 18 2012: I am trying to comprehend the first two sentences, but cannot. Care to clarify?
        • Mar 20 2012: Church and State are seperate Identidies in a country. As an example Canada, USA have Church and state separete and there are many more. But as an example I used Islamic countries where Church and State are one, the Churches highest priest usually is also the leader of the Country and there is no line between Church and State. In Countries like Canada and USA there is a strong Church but they do not run the Country, yes they may have some influence but not enough to run a Country. But in these two Countries it was usual to have the National Anthem and a Prayer said before the beginning of the School day, now in my case it was Hail Mary and Our Father, and the majority of Religions (at the time there were not many different Religions like we have now) this was said in their Church so there was no real dealing with other youth from a different Religions (Hindu, Islamic for example) where the prayers said before class would cause any youth from saying that S/He had an issue with these prayers. I hope this clarifies any problems you had with the two sentences. Sorry about the spelling or any other errors in the reply, iPad and auto correct sometimes throws a loop where you didn't want it, and I should read my replies so there wouldn't be any need to clarify - Thanks

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