Religion in schools - To pray or not to pray
Why have we banned prayer from schools?
Opinions vary greatly on this subject, and many school boards in Canada have opted for keeping prayers out of schools. Yet spiritualism is an important part of our lives, no matter what the faith. In many ways it defines us, and we are guided by it, in the choices we make during our lives. Yet it seems that many people are so uncomfortable with it, that prayer is now being pushed out of schools, in order to simplify things in our multicultural society.
Atheism is also a choice that must be respected
In a couple of the comments that this article received below, it was rightfully pointed out to me, that I had not included atheism as choice, and for that I apologize. I also want to make it clear, that I absolutely am in favor of separation of church and state. I am simply trying to suggest a way we could promote tolerance and acceptance or understanding in some small ways between all people regardless of their beliefs, spiritual or otherwise.
I have written this article with the best intent, and based on my experiences in life. The opinions and observations are my own, and I thank both Adiago and Wilderness for their well thought out, and valuable input, and encourage readers of this article to read their comments as well.
Schoolboard faces backlash
- Alberta school board faces backlash after banning Lord’s Prayer in classrooms | National Post
‘I know...not everybody is of the same faith. But really, the foundation to Canada and the reason a lot of things were established was on the Christian faith’
What are we afraid of?
Prayer and reflection
Over the years, in my travels, I have been witness to various ways of praying, or in the case of non religious people, deep reflection.
The one thing that struck me in all cases, was the sense of setting aside oneself, a humbling attitude, that is helpful in keeping us grounded, and a devotion to, or recognition of, a higher power, (for some it is the Almighty, where for others, it is Universal law or balance). In any case, whenever done with a peaceful and selfless mindset , it is always beautiful and touching to observe.
What's more, we all seem comfortable with behavior and displays in public, that I would consider a lot less endearing to watch, than prayer.
Like the cuisine of different cultures, the music differs greatly as well, but we are not afraid of sharing that, nor should we be, because it also provides an enriching experience. Whenever I have traveled to other countries, I have always eaten the local foods, enjoyed the local music, and visited the smaller towns, as a way of getting to know the people and their culture better. The tourist attraction of the bigger cities are worth seeing of course, but it is the people in their everyday lives, that provides the real charm and understanding of a culture. Why then should we be adverse to, or afraid of, the diversity of faith in different cultures? It seems to me a very outdated attitude?
Did we miss a great opportunity here?
Rather than embrace a great opportunity, we have made prayer seem like a taboo.
Did we miss the opportunity to teach cultural tolerance, on such an important subject, and did we underline that missed opportunity by making any kind of prayer in school seem inappropriate? It seems to me that this choice was not in anyone's favor. I am not suggesting hour long lessons on various religions, or beliefs, simply that everyone shows tolerance to the beliefs of everyone present.
Would it be so hard or so wrong to treat this as an opportunity to teach tolerance?
How hard would it be to simply explain to young students that people worship in different ways, and spiritual beliefs are equally important to us all. Should we not encourage the students to be respectful of the various ways to worship, or choice not to, and allow each group to get together (possibly at assembly) to reflect on the day ahead, each in their own way. Instead of hiding from each other, would it not create tolerance and understanding to have it out in the open?
Fear of the unknown
It is not a matter of making school time a religious experience, but as our beliefs are such an integral part of us, I don't feel it should be seen as inappropriate public behavior, as this will only create 'fear of the unknown' so to speak. I am not suggesting we make the school day into a continuous religious experience, just that we recognize the social importance of recognition and respect, for what is a very important part of how we see ourselves.
A college promoting the spirit of welcome and inclusion
Food! Where we excel at cultural tolerance
Exposure to the culinary delights of many cultures
As a society, we have become not only very intolerant, but even appreciative of other cultures cuisine. This is very beneficial, as every culture can contribute some amazing dishes, in many cases both healthy and exquisite, thereby providing us all with a tremendous variety, that would not otherwise have been possible. This integration of culinary varieties did not happen overnight, nor did everyone immediately view that as a great benefit. It has taken years of gradual exposure, to get us where we are now.
Our cities and towns tell the tale
All we have to do is walk down the street in the commercial section of any city in Canada, and we will see restaurants serving dishes that originates from various cultures. That is not a strange site. Many of us, (if not most) take advantage of such a large selection regularly. Many have even learned to cook dishes that were not native to them. And all this has happened because we have had exposure to these many culinary delights, and we have learned to accept and enjoy this, even take it for granted.
If we were similarly exposed to each others belief systems, and got to know a little bit of what is 'in the heart' of others, I believe it would create understanding and acceptance. It does not mean that anyone should consider changing their faith, but simply gain understanding and acceptance of one another.
Different but both delicious
School Is Meant for Getting Children Ready to Function in Society
Teachers are already teaching zero tolerance to violence
Because so much of the waking time of school aged children is spent in school, I believe that it is imperative to include certain guidelines for acceptable social behavior. For example, we have already adopted the zero tolerance to violence in the school, but would in not be helpful to foster acceptance and respect for each other at an early age, by not hiding our diversity, but rather bringing it out in the open. I don't see it taking a significant amount of time out of the day to incorporate morning prayer or reflection at assembly for all, and I believe it would go a long way to help make every child feel accepted and at home in a place where they spend so many hours of their young and impressionable lives. That in turn should help create added constructive interaction among children of various backgrounds, and bring about a healthy attitude in individuals who may be struggling to understanding each other.
It could be argued that the children should be taught these things at home, but the fact is, that it is generally when they are at school, that the children are exposed to the biggest cultural variety, so it would follow that school would be the natural and most effective place to teach tolerance. Religious or otherwise.
Beautiful multicultural event in Cleveland USA
The political side of cultural issues
What are the guidelines that schoolboards use, to arrive at decisions regarding cultural issues.
I am not very familiar with those, but I am sure they are complex and varied, and their decision may be justified given the information they were considering. Finding a simple 'fix' for cultural issues is a rarity to say the least. History has taught us that.
However, I just feel that 'hiding' our differences is not a solution in a multicultural society. In fact, I see it as counterproductive. It seems like we are taking the easy way out, but I think we will pay for it in the long run. These thoughts are of course just my opinion, and I am curious to learn the opinion of any person living in Canada, no matter what the cultural background is. The more varied the backgrounds of the comment sources, the better. We are after all multicultural, and proud of it. It is however up to all of us, regardless of our background cultures to be be tolerant with each other. Multiculturalism is a combined effort of each and everyone living in Canada, and a responsibility we should be taking seriously. If we do, we have a good chance to get rid of the bad experiences people have at school, workforce or other places we share.
Experiences and opinions (and there are many more)
- Faith in Public Schools: How Does Praying in School Hurt Children? | Educhatter's Blog
Kids are praying in Toronto's public schools. It's not a school board concern, however, because the students are not Christians. And on July 8,2011, the Toronto District School Board issued an official statement that the Muslim students attending Val