Religion and Education: Does the Separation Between “Church” and State Require a Separation Between Self and School?
by Mona Abo-Zena — July 26, 2013
Although educational efforts have a purported attention to serve the whole child, for many individuals, the separation between “church” and state requires a separation between self and school. Understanding how to balance the constitutional clauses regarding religious separation and free exercise in classrooms and schools within a religiously pluralistic society is an educational, civic, and legal challenge. While there is common ground that non-devotional studies of religion are required components of anti-bias educational approaches and integral to the study of humanities and world history, controversy remains about how to incorporate the personal religious views of students and educators. Given that religion encompasses particular cultural funds of knowledge, how do religious experiences facilitate and challenge learning? How should the personal religious views of students be addressed, if at all, in the teaching and learning process given foci to support the whole child in a culturally sensitive manner? This essay explores a critical and often silenced conversation about the humility and support educators need to help navigate the space between self and school.
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