Religion in Public Schools

Since the beginning of recorded History, conflict has been a part of humankind. When one looks at the root, it has often been religious conflict. As a human race, people of all time have held to their individual liberty to exercise their own beliefs.

Religion is a powerful force in the world, so it’s not surprising it has resulted in tremendous conflict throughout history. One of the most notable conflicts stemming from religious differences were the Crusades, taking place between Christian Europe and the Muslim-controlled Middle East region between the 11th and 15th centuries. Under the leadership of Pope Urban II, Christians in Europe sought to regain control of the Holy Land, what is now Israel, which at that time was Muslim-controlled territory. The Crusades were actually a series of wars, with some being more successful than others.

The Thirty Years War, taking place between 1618 and 1648, is another example of a religious conflict, this time fought primarily between Catholic and Protestant Christians. The war broke out when the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II, tried to impose Roman Catholicism on all his subjects, causing Protestant Christians to rebel. Many of the battles were fought on German soil, but numerous European countries were involved in the war, including Sweden, France, Spain, and Austria. The war involved widespread atrocities and resulted in millions of casualties. The Peace of Westphalia ended the conflict, and ultimately reshaped the European map, allowing for the emergence of new nation-states.

Today we can see that religious conflict continues. This is especially true in the Middle East, where various religious groups compete for territory and influence. Terrorist groups like ISIS are usually considered to be motivated by religion. In other places, however, religious conflict is avoided through compromise and negotiation. The country of India, for example, has a diverse religious make-up, including Muslims, Hindus, Christians, and others. Here in the United States we’re fortunate to practice the religion of our choice freely. (Historical Ethnic & Religious Conflicts: Discussion & Examples, 2018)

Nothing is different for Mineral County. One would ideologically hope that religious discussions or events at a school or church would bring people together. More often they cause separation. This is not unhealthy. The highest level of conversation is discussion about ideals. The challenge is to have difference among our community, appreciate it and accept it. No two individuals will think or believe exactly the same. We must respect this.

How does a school district tackle the sticky ideals of religion? We know from the standards given by our State, it is our responsibility to teach about the impact that religion has had on the world and many cultures. From an educational standpoint, we cannot skirt religion in the world and do justice to a full and balanced education.

For an appreciation of culture, religion cannot be ignored. The basis of each country in our world, comes their deep roots in religion. Even the devout atheist, has a religion to humanity with an absence of any deity. With the education of culture, a school district must teach an appreciation for art, music, food, dress, customs, etc. In Creede School District, we endeavor to help our students appreciate every aspect of cultures around the world through all of the mediums mentioned (art, music, etc.).

When the community is invited to a program or event at the school, they are also exposed to a rich balance of culture. A perfect example of this was the Spring Arts Festival in May. Students shared their art from different cultural perspectives and their music from the same. There were pieces in the musical presentation from several different countries including North America (also Native Hawaiian pieces) Ireland, Africa, and others. This program manifested an emphasis in America because of the current content in classes. What a wonderful balance!

There is no need for members of the community to have concern for students sharing their exposure to religion in historical form through music, art or class content. This is required in education and encourages the students to think on their own about difference. There is no effort to proselytize students but to expose them to difference. The more they are exposed, the more they will learn to have a healthy understanding of our world.

 

COLORADO STATE STANDARD FOR SOCIAL STUDIES (ONLY STANDARD 1 OF 3)

Standard 1: Analyze key historical periods and patterns of change over time within and across nations and cultures

Students can:

World history (both East and West; to include but not be limited to modern world history):

  1. Discuss the historical development and impact of major world religions and philosophies. Topics to include but not limited to the Enlightenment and modern changes in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism (DOK 1-3)
  2. Investigate the historical development of and impact of major scientific and technological innovations. Topics to include but not limited to the Industrial Revolution (DOK 1-4)
  3. Evaluate the historical development and impact of political thought, theory and actions (DOK 1-3)
  4. Analyze the origins of fundamental political debates and how conflict, compromise, and cooperation have shaped national unity and diversity. Topics to include but not limited to suffrage, Civil Rights and the role of government (DOK 1-3)
  5. Analyze ideas critical to the understanding of American history. Topics to include but not limited to populism, progressivism, isolationism, imperialism, anti-communism, environmentalism, liberalism, fundamentalism, and conservatism (DOK 1-3)
  6. Describe and analyze the historical development and impact of the arts and literature on the culture of the United States (DOK 1-3)

 

 

COLORADO STATE MUSIC STANDARDS:

1.       Expression of Music 1. Perform accurately and expressively, demonstrating self-evaluation and personal interpretation at the minimal level of 3 on the difficulty rating scale
2. Perform music accurately and expressively at the first reading at the minimal level of 2 on the difficulty rating scale
3. Participate appropriately as an ensemble member while performing music at the minimal level of 3 on the difficulty rating scale
4. Demonstrate requisite performance skill sets appropriate for postsecondary pursuits
2.       Creation of Music 1. Improvise a stylistically appropriate vocal or instrumental solo over a given harmonic progression
2. Compose complex music in several distinct styles
3. Arrange selections for voices and/or instruments other than those for which they were written in ways that preserve and enhance the expressive effect of the music
3.       Theory of Music 1. Interpretation of musical elements and ideas
2. Classification by genre, style, historical period or culture
3. Evaluation of music using critical, informed analysis
4.       Aesthetic Valuation of Music 1. Practice of appropriate behavior during cultural activities
2. Evaluation of the quality and effectiveness of musical performances
3. Development of criteria-based aesthetic judgment of artistic process and products in music
4. Knowledge of available musical opportunities for continued musical growth and professional development

 

COLORADO STATE VISUAL ART STANDARDS:

1.  Observe and Learn to Comprehend 1. Visual art has inherent characteristics and expressive features
2. Historical and cultural context are found in visual art
3. Art and design have purpose and function
2.  Envision and Critique to Reflect 1. Reflective strategies are used to understand the creative process
2. A personal philosophy of art is accomplished through use of sophisticated language and studio art processes
3. Interpretation is a means for understanding and evaluating works of art
3.  Invent and Discover to Create 1. Demonstrate competency in traditional and new art media, and apply appropriate and available technology for the expression of ideas
2. Assess and produce art with various materials and methods
3. Make judgments from visual messages
4.  Relate and Connect to Transfer 1. The work of art scholars impacts how art is viewed today
2. Communication through advanced visual methods is a necessary skill in everyday life
3. Art is a lifelong endeavor