We disagree deeply about what is reasonable when it comes to sexuality and politics and economics and the origins of the world. If the dominant ways of thinking of our time are secular, there continue to be religious alternatives. Indeed, what appears to be a secular consensus among scholars is artificial and misleading, for theologians aren't allowed to vote; they aren't allowed into the main quad of the academy, much less into public schools.
Our argument is that when we disagree, at least when the disagreements cut deep, educators are obligated to give students some sense of what is at issue. If students are to be educated, if they are to think critically, then religious voices must be included in our curricular conversations. If we are to take religion seriously, should we include it in existing courses "natural inclusion" or do we need new courses in religion?
Religion in courses, or courses in religion? Our answer? If religion is to be taken seriously, if the importance and complexity of religion are to be acknowledged, then, we suggest, we need to carve space out of the curriculum for courses in religion - or "religious studies" which has become the term of choice in higher education.
And just as we require science teachers to be certified in science, so religious studies should become a certifiable field for teachers of religion. We believe that high school students should be required to take at least one year-long course in religious studies. Required courses are not just around the corner, however, so we suggest what may be a more realistic two-prong approach.
First, we must emphasize natural inclusion. Teachers and textbooks must make clear that there are religious alternatives to secular ways of thinking. A minimal fairness would require that a first chapter in textbooks, and an opening lecture or two in courses, include some discussion of religious ways of approaching the "subject" at hand. Ideally, those religious perspectives would again be included later, at critical points in the course. But, second, if a robust fairness is to be possible, schools must begin to offer more elective courses in religious studies, especially as certified teachers become available and as students and their parents come to appreciate the importance of religion in the curriculum.
A few communities here and there might even consider requiring courses in religious studies. From within the New Consensus a sharp distinction is drawn between unconstitutional indoctrination, proselytizing, and the practice of religion on the one hand and, on the other, constitutional teaching about religion, which is objective, non-sectarian, neutral, balanced and fair. Schempp decision in which, as we have seen, the Court affirmed the constitutionality of teaching about religion in public schools when done "objectively as part of a secular program of education.
What is clear from Schempp is that the Court's touchstone idea once again was neutrality. Teachers and texts must be neutral in dealing with religion; they must be neutral among religions, and they must be neutral between religion and nonreligion. Fairness and Neutrality.
As we have described it, the idea of a liberal education requires fairness but not neutrality. Just as a judge might be fair to the opposing parties in a lawsuit before passing judgment, so teachers might be fair to contending points of view before passing a reasoned judgment.
Indeed, we believe that other things being equal, educators have an obligation to guide the thinking of their students. But other things aren't equal when religion is at issue because of the First Amendment: teachers in public schools must be neutral as well as fair. And we must keep in mind that neutrality not only governs the treatment of religion when it does come up for whatever reason ; it also governs when religion should be included in the curriculum. If students learn about ways of living and thinking about the world that conflict with religious alternatives, then neutrality requires that those alternatives also be included in the discussion, fairly.
We trust that educators will also keep in mind that it is not at all obvious where the truth lies, and quite apart from civic and constitutional constraints they should show some humility in dealing with complicated and controversial matters. When fundamentally different worldviews shape the disagreements, it is not easy to say what the truth is. To be educated about religion is to understand something of religions , of religion in its diversity, just as to be educated about politics is to understand more than one's own political party. It is not open to educators to include only one religious tradition in the discussion.
If particular courses will inevitably take some religions more seriously than others because of their relevance to the subject, there must be some overall balance in the curriculum. We no longer believe that it is educationally sound to teach American or Western history only, and just as students must know something of world cultures, so they must know something of world religions if they are to be educated.
And, as we've seen, the Establishment Clause requires neutrality among religions, as well as neutrality between religion and nonreligion. Religion from the Outside and the Inside. It is often enlightening to use the resources of modern secular scholarship to put religious texts and traditions into historical, cultural, and philosophical context.
Cognitive Disability and Moral Status (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Comparative study of religions is especially interesting and important: How are religions alike and how are they different? It is tremendously important to keep in mind, however, that the world - and any particular religious tradition - will look one way when viewed from the "outside" using the categories and conceptual nets of secular scholarship, but will look quite different when viewed from the "inside" using the religious categories of that particular tradition. This is often best done through the use of primary sources. Obviously a great deal more needs to be said - and we have said much of it elsewhere.
Chapter 9. Moral Education
There is not a great deal of agreement about what moral education should be. We will argue that "moral education" is an umbrella-term for two quite different tasks. The first is to nurture in children those consensus virtues and values that make them good people. But, of course, good people can make bad judgments. The second task of moral education is provide students with the intellectual resources that enable them to make informed and responsible judgments about difficult and controversial matters of moral importance.
Both are proper and important tasks of schools. We trust that it is uncontroversial to say that schooling is unavoidably a moral enterprise. Indeed, schools teach morality in a number of ways, both implicit and explicit. Schools have a moral ethos embodied in rules, rewards and punishments, dress codes, honor codes, student government, relationships, styles of teaching, sports and extracurricular emphases, art and appearances, and in the kinds of respect accorded students and teachers.
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Schools convey to children what is expected of them, what is normal, what is right and wrong. It is often claimed that values are caught rather than taught; through their ethos, schools socialize children into patterns of moral behavior. Textbooks and courses often address moral questions and take moral positions. Literature inevitably explores moral issues and writers take positions on those issues - as do publishers who decide which literature goes in the anthologies.
In teaching history we initiate students into particular cultural traditions and identities. While economics courses and texts typically avoid overt moral language and claim to be "value-free," their accounts of human nature, decision-making, and the economic world have moral implications as we shall see.
The overall shape of the curriculum is morally-loaded by virtue of what it requires, what it makes available as electives, and what it ignores. For example, for more than a century but especially since A Nation at Risk and the reform reports of the s there has been a powerful movement to make schooling and the curriculum serve economic purposes. Religion and art, by contrast, have been largely ignored and are not even elective possibilities in many schools.
As a result, schooling encourages a rather more materialistic and less spiritual culture - a matter of some moral significance. Educators have devised a variety of approaches to values and morality embodied in self-esteem, community service, civic education, sex education, drug education, Holocaust education, multicultural education, values clarification, and character education programs - to name but a few. We might consider two of the most influential of these approaches briefly.
For the past several decades values clarification programs have been widely used in public schools. On this approach, teachers help students "clarify" their values by having them reflect on moral dilemmas and think through the consequences of the options open to them, choosing that action that maximizes their deepest values. It is unjustifiable for a teacher to "impose" his or her values on students; this would be an act of oppression that denies the individuality and autonomy of students. Values are ultimately personal; indeed, the implicit message is that there are no right or wrong values.
Needless to say, this is a deeply controversial approach. The Character Education movement has taken a markedly different tact. According to the "Character Education Manifesto" 14 "all schools have the obligation to foster in their students personal and civic virtues such as integrity, courage, responsibility, diligence, service, and respect for the dignity of all persons. Finally, we note what is conspicuous by its absence: while all universities offer courses in ethics, very few public schools have such courses.
Unlike either values clarification or character education programs, the major purpose of ethics courses is usually to provide students with intellectual resources drawn from a variety of traditions that might orient them in the world and help them think through difficult moral problems. As important as we all agree morality to be, it is striking that ethics courses are not an option thought worth offering in public schools.