If you are an elementary teacher and an atheist.
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Children are not just the possessions of their parents. They are the future of humanity. Every human has a vested (permanent, inalienable) interest in the formative years of every child. This is a time to question everything. There is more of course.
Asking kindly, is this doing a service to a child who has inquired about God, to tell them to go read a book, where their unformed mind will be subjected to single-focused propaganda? And to confusion, when they read multiple perspectives?
No, because multiple perspectives and knowledge lead to critical thinking skills and a desire to search for one's own meaning. It's much preferable to the indoctrination route I was subjected to. When I learned about many paths, I was able to decide
I agree, ChristinS, about the benefit of exposing oneself to multiple perspectives. Elementary students are 6 - 10 years old? I know some are very bright but are they able to find their way through the God question? Ones who ask deserve more.
At that age, that should come from their parents not you or any teacher. It is not a teacher's place to talk to a child about personal beliefs, that is crossing a line and is disrespectful no matter the good intent.
Diversity is beautiful. I favor diverse perspectives as it takes all to make the whole. You have an opinion that it is not my place to give neutral guidance when asked. I have a different opinion. In the end, it will be the teacher who will decide.
Maybe we have all been arrogant to assume the person asking the question is in America. I just visited her profile. She is in India. Before I could truly answer, I would need to understand the laws & cultural norms of her land or where she teache
Mother Theresa remains an inspiration to us all. Beautiful answer!
Great answer! '.... tell the child to never stop searching for the truth.... Simply, stimulate the process of questioning without dismissing possibilities.'
Do Buddhists have gods? My understanding is that the philosophy has no deities.
How wonderful that you found your way through all the impassioned, half-considered and biased input (mine included) and found your own beautiful, thoughtful and well-rounded answer.
You've earned my 'best answer' vote.
I bow my head in respect.
Yes, there are considerations for whether this is a public school. Waldorf or other. In one way, divulging my own perspective would be the most honest approach. It does not feel an advancement to shrink from openness with each other out of fear.
I like this general idea. Not to back up from the subject, but to embrace the opportunity for all to grow. In an ideal situation, the teacher could invite parental input. Depends on how far a teacher will go to deliver the best with some risk.
It would upset those of us who send our kids to public school and don't want God taught where we have separation of church and state. I can't understand why anyone things its respectful or acceptable to cross these bounds? Religion is personal
Society sets its standards, but those are not always the highest choice. I favor re-thinking separation of church and state from a perspective of wholeness and to consider the children and not only the wishes of parents. Society will evolve or die.
yes, society sets the standards, not you. we HAVE separation of church and state - don't like it - move to a theocracy or teach in a private school. Your "higher" vision for others crosses into arrogance when you feel the need to push it onto other
Excuse me, I am society, as well as you are & we all are. Laws did not come into place out of thin air & can change. If you interpret my vision as imposing or arrogant, that is your choice. I put it out to express my perspective, without atta
And if the child is in a home setting, like so many, where parents are emotionally crippled and don't talk about God or any 'real' subjects? The teacher may be the child's only choice for *some* guidance which can be delivered neutrally & with ca
I agree, it is not a teacher's place to discuss religious beliefs with children at all unless the child is enrolled in a private school. Believe whatever you please, but religion is highly personal and has no place in public schools.
I'm unclear are you implying homes that don't discuss a God are "emotionally crippled"? If their parents aren't discussing a God then the child should ask them about it. It is no ones place to decide for a child what they should believe.
My use of 'emotionally crippled' was a little out of line. There is a truth in it, but it is too strong to use in a Q & A where it cannot be clarified with ongoing dialog. It also reflects my own value system, which is not to impose on others.
My bible thumping home I grew up in was much more "emotionally crippling" than the atheist/agnostic home I raise my children to be free thinkers in. They are both very spiritual and deeply compassionate beings without the need for indoctrination.
ChristinS, do I misinterpret that your tone sounds pretty angry and defensive? Or perhaps my comment was unclear. I only propose that a teacher gives neutral guidance when asked by a child, definitely not to promote a single-focused perspective.
I agree to know the parents and school policy if any. Yet if a child has asked, they may not be receiving guidance from home. As this is a life-shaping subject, in the end I would do what I feel best for the child and not what pleases parents.
Granted, however it is not our place to be telling other peoples children what they should believe. Perhaps a discussion on the beliefs of others, but not one God in particular regardless of what we personally believe, would be better?
I agree with this. I would be extremely angry if my children's teachers were discussing God or religion. We have a separation of church and state for good reason.
Agreed with both. My Answer refers only to beliefs and not to one God or another. The comment here was in the context of that Answer. May I add, the children are their own people and do not 'belong' to the parents. That of course is my viewpoint.
They don't belong to you either is my point. Children are capable of critical thinking. Waiting until one is older is also fine. I moved sharply away from religious indoctrination with no one else's aid but my own mind.
ChristinS, I also moved out of religious indoctrination under my own power. My hub 'What do you believe and why?' tells the story. Regarding who owns children, please see the comment under my Answer. Wise neutral counsel when asked still has my vote.
Can an atheist say this from a true place in herself?
Would it be unnatural & dishonest for her to tell a child to pray to something she does not believe exists?
Will the child understand?
An approach that considers all will be the most whol
Absolutely not (I do not believe an atheist can); indeed that is what is so exceptional about God. He hears the prayer from everyone. In no way did I mention for the child to pray; the prayer comes from without and seeps in where needed...
Ah, I mis-read your comment as telling the child to pray to God to enlighten them. Shows I could benefit from slowing down, as your Answer to the question on 'best life advice' suggested. I consider to answer future Qs with poetry. Linear has limits.
I like the approach of diverting attention back to the child for them to answer. In some situations, it would be quite wise. If the child answers, 'I don't know' or 'What do you believe?', the next step of wisdom may only be known in that moment.