As a Christian, one of the things that comes to mind when preparing to teach is how much I can share my beliefs in a classroom.  Obviously, I cannot pull out my Bible in class and start teaching.  However, I believe it is important for students to understand different beliefs (including those I disagree with) to be able to relate to each other as they grow and are faced with the varying views within society.  Any suggestions in how to approach teaching a variety of religious and scientific viewpoints in a public classroom?

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One way you could do it is to integrate relgion in when you are teaching about different cultures around the world. In my lesson plan for the project with webquest that we just did, i had my students compare three different countries; 1- the country they were born in, 2- the country or one of the countries that their ancestors are from, and 3- a country of their choice.  Then i gave them guidlines of what i want them to research about and one of them was the dominant religion of the country. It gave them a chance to "teach themselves" about different religions around the world, which would help them relate to each otehr as tehy are faced with varying views within society like you had asked.
I am lucky to be teaching a Christian school where I can be open about my beliefs.  I came from working in public education where that was not the case.  In public education my students and other staff knew I was a Christian.  I did not try to convert anyone, but when people asked I shared.  Diversity is huge factor in American education now.  Students are going to be exposed to people with various beliefs in their life.  America was founded on Christian values, so religion is going to come into play in literature and history.  When evolution comes up in science it can be a teachable moment embracing different beliefs. 
I think,unless you teach at a faith based school, you need to ask yourself how you would feel if your child were attending a 'public" school and the instructor would teach his or her faith and it wasn't Christianity.  My daughter attends a charter school in which most of the administrators and teachers are Turkish.  Academically they are excellent and they do a good job separating faith from learning, but occasionally during Christian or Islamic holidays it can get a little strange.  
My POV is that as a member of the teaching staff and humans at large, the best way to teach students about faiths and beliefs are by the actions that we exhibit. Living what we preach is the hardest and most significant lesson we can give our students to show what faith is. It is irrelevant what religion one affiliates with as the basic premise for most is the same. Its the how that is different. I show my students by living the example that I want them to view and consider as one that they would feel comfortable with doing as well.

Teaching religion in a public school is a very touchy subject. You have to be extremely careful about what you say to students about religion because you can get into a lot of trouble if parents get upset with what you tell their children. Separation of church and state really restricts what you can teach in public schools about religion. You should definitely know your school districts policy about teaching religion in the classroom before you bring the subject up with your students.

I am also fortunate to teach at a faith based school, St. James Catholic High School.  It is our policy, and that of our Board, to infuse Catholicism in everything we do and teach.  Our lessons as well as our curriculum expectations include our Catholic Graduate Expectations as well.  Should teachers not be utilizing these expectations and fostering Catholic gospel values, they are held accountable.  So, I guess I am fortunate not to be in your situation, Charlsie. I would have to agree whole heartedly with Elena though, that your actions model what you want from your students.  Every opportunity you have to instill Christian values in what you do, say, and teach is of utmost importance.  You are the next best thing most of these students will have to bible teachings.  It's sad, in my environment, Catholic as it is, we find this to also be true.  We as a school community are often the closest thing our students have to prayer, church, and gospel teachings.  It's hard as it often feels like you are trying to convert the converted who haven't practiced in a long, long, time.  Keep up the good fight;)

Charlsie, Several years ago I wrote an article to address this sort of concern, and it was published in a couple of journals. The last I knew, it was available online. If you google "James E. Schwartz" + "golden rule" I believe you may be able to find it. I tried to post a link, but there are access difficulties doing it that way.





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