SHADY OAK BEST PRACTICES: CHAPEL/CHRISTIAN MORALS
Time was when the Bible was routinely taught in public schools—not just as classic literature but as a guide to life—and prayer opened every school day. While that may not be practical in a modern public school with students from a diversity of faith traditions, the approach of “eliminate all mention of religion to avoid offending anyone” hasn’t proven practical either. Besides generating some truly ludicrous situations (schools vs. families have gone to court over innocuous religious quotations on T-shirts and religious books kept in lockers), it robs everyone of any objective frame of reference for behavior. There’s now an increasing awareness of need, in even the most diverse schools, to teach universal moral traditions and allow students to freely express their own beliefs.
- Knowing what you personally believe and how it will guide your daily conduct.
- Learning what comments and terms are considered derogatory by followers of various religions, and avoiding these.
- Knowing your school’s and district’s policies on religious expression—and speaking up if these policies are unfair or in violation of any freedom-of-religion laws.
- Remembering that “no proselytizing” rules rarely apply to students—and allowing students to express their own beliefs freely (while showing respect for others, of course) in class discussions.
- Remembering that life is more than achievement—and giving at least as much positive attention to acts of kindness and generosity as to good grades and school projects well done.
- Pray regularly for your own effectiveness as a teacher and understanding of your students.
- Know your religion’s scriptures and traditions. (A surprising number of professedly religious people don’t.)
- Emphasize religion as not simply a collection of theological and ethical premises, but a way of life.
- Attach special importance to daily chapel and other school religious programs.
- Encourage regular class discussions on what religion means to your students (and you) as a guide to both daily life and making practical use of what’s learned in school.
At Shady Oak, we emphasize chapel and Christian morals because they help students learn integrity, understanding, peace of mind, and a sense of higher purpose.