Also titled Teaching Religion.
*I should have posted this yesterday…better late than never though.*
Why would I want to teach my kids about religion? Why should anyone teach their children about religion? Let my first start by saying teaching your kids about religion and indoctrinating your kids into a religion are two different things.
Teaching them about various religions *including your own beliefs* means presenting them with the information on the various religions *actual, factual information about holy days, the belief system, how it got started, and so forth*. Indoctrinating is when you expect your children to unquestioningly accept your way of thinking, even if it means spreading myths about other belief systems *no Atheist don‘t worship the devil hate to break it to you folks!*.
Secular homeschooling had an article on teaching the bible for cultural literacy, but I think it needs to go beyond just the bible. In America we have non-believers, Jews, Muslims, Buddhist, Hindus, Mormons, Pagans, Scientologist *yes…I know…I know…* on top of the Christian population. Each with its own set of beliefs, way of operating, and so on. Now can we possibly give every single religion on this planet its own special bit of time, no, but we can make sure to acknowledge most of them and spend a good bit of time on the major ones.
Why though is it so important to discuss other religions? Well from this non-believers stand point it allows for the kids to see the parallels between many of the world’s big religions. This of course allows them to think critically about these belief systems, especially if approached by someone from one of those belief systems. Also by being well versed in the religious texts of the big religions they will have a firm grasp on books that have been used for centuries to justify various acts *good and bad* that have taken place. They can understand what drives many in those belief systems, and understand that they have the right to believe as they wish *even though we may not agree with them, and that we don’t have to respect beliefs that we deem harmful and hateful*.
Finally by being taught about religion they will be able to confidently state what it is they do and don’t believe. Instead of just repeating back what they think we want to hear, they will be able to look at everything and go “yes this makes sense to me, no this doesn’t make sense to me, yes I like that part, no I really despise that part”.
Do my kids currently repeat what they hear The Spouse and I say, of course they do, they are kids. We don’t take much stock in it, given their ages. We do use it as a chance to push them to further state why they feel the way they do. Is it because we said that or is it because they have reached that conclusion on their own. Child #2 really isn’t interested in discussing religion *or anything for that matter…but given his age that I don‘t expect him to be*, Child #1 though is at the age where he can start putting things together on his own. He is still too young for The Spouse and I to say whole heartedly that his beliefs are coming strictly from his own opinions, but it is a stepping stone to further critical thinking about religion.
So how do we go about teaching religion? Well a couple of years ago I started talking about other religious holidays that took place around the same time as Christmas. Each year we have grown more in what we discuss. Last year for our Hanukah discussion we lit a candle every night and read a traditional Jewish blessing, as well as talked more and more each evening about the history of Hanukah and some of the things Jewish families do around that time of year.
Then we read stories and enjoy traditional food items of that particular holiday. The rest of the holidays go the same way, recently we branched out from winter holidays, and discussed Mabon. Our Spiral Scouts activities help with discussing Pagan holidays because it actually makes me aware of all of them. At first I was apprehensive about how we should work on the Wheel of the Year patches, I have found they are working in great with our religious education work.
I also have plans to devote at least two years to full on religious studies. Where we will do a comprehensive study of the Bible, the Torah, and the Quran. As well as minor studies *full reading of important religious text(s) but not on the in depth level of study as the other two* on Buddhism, Hinduism, UU, Mormonism, Paganism, and Scientology. From there we will look at how Catholicism differs from mainstream Christianity, and how religious views impact political views and visa versa.
This of course would be when the boys are closer to their teens, but I am looking forward to those two years because I have always found religion interesting. I plan for us to visit various houses of worship to observe and then discuss afterwards, and the boys will need to write a “term paper” *for lack of a better word* on what they learned, and how what they learned impacted their own set of beliefs, at the end of our in depth two year study of religion.
I think it would be safe to say that at that point The Spouse and I would see their beliefs as being based on their own experiences and not on just what we say. Thus ensuring that they beliefs are genuine to them and they are not just parroting their parents.
Yes secular homeschoolers have reasons other than religion for wanting to homeschool, but it *religion* is still an important topic that should be tackled right along with reading, writing, and arithmetic.
This work by Rayven Holmes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Also titled Teaching Religion.