Understanding Religion in the Public Schools
Religious beliefs and practices are a part of daily life in many parts of the world. You’ve seen people in turbans at the grocery store, perhaps noticed that certain foods are marked Kosher, or read in the newspaper that there is a new temple in your community. Understanding different types of religion can open your eyes to the diversity of our global world, while also increasing your ability to connect with those from other faiths.
The word “religion” is an adverb derived from the Latin religio, meaning scrupulousness or devotedness. In western antiquity it was often used in reference to the worship of a god or gods and the obligations that a person might feel toward those gods. It was not meant to be a lexical definition of a specific group, and in fact it would be difficult to argue that capitalism or ice-skating are religions.
As a concept, religion is now usually defined as a taxon of social kinds characterized by particular sets of beliefs (beliefs), behaviors, and experiences of belonging. The 3B Framework emphasizes that teachers should help students understand the ways in which religious communities and individuals construct their identities by exploring not just what they believe but also how they behave and feel as a result of these beliefs.
NCSS continues to call for the study of religion in the public schools, as a means of helping young Americans prepare to engage a diverse democratic society. We encourage state education leaders, textbook publishers, online content creators, and teacher educators to support this goal by adopting policies, learning standards, and practices that are consistent with high academic standards and First Amendment principles.