I'm a 6th grade Social Studies teacher.  The topic of religion as a part of culture comes up all the time.  Today during a discussion of Greek myths, a student (a 12 year-old girl with a sweet smile) asked me if I believed in god.  I paused and said, "Well, sure."

I felt that I was having a discussion with a child about Santa or the Easter Bunny.  I didn't want to be the one to tell the child that all the adults in her life have been lying to her.

This has been bothering me all day.  When this comes up again - I'm sure it will - should I lie as I did today, or should I tell the truth?

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Exactly, but don't just avoid the question; explain why it's not appropriate for a school discussion.  Although it may be a tangent to Greek mythology, take the opportunity to explain separation between church and state, 1st amendment, etc.  Are 6th graders too young for that discussion?

Well im in 8th grade and ever since I was in 6th grade I have always doubted the presence of a God, but I always understood that not everyone makes the same choices


Cool.  Out of curiosity, have you had lessons on Amendments to the Constitution and the idea of Separation between Church and State?

I'm 25 and history has always been one of my favorite subjects...so please allow me to geek out:  4th grade was state history (zzzzz, but I survived), 5th grade was introduction to U.S. history (including reading the Bill of Rights and doing worksheets on the contents as part of a mini-unit), 6th grade was World Civilizations (ancient history, general sweetness), sorry, but all I remember from 7th grade is reading Harry Potter, learning about the Holocaust, and hating science for the first time (our biology teacher sat at his computer with his back to us all period), but 8th grade--8th grade was the shiznet....it was in-depth U.S. History (reading more of the constitution--most of us were then mature enough to realize how meaningful civil liberties are--, memorizing the preamble to the Declaration of Independence...we studied up until the Reconstruction Era and I actually was pissed that we ran out of time).     

Kairan Nierde I could describe my memory of history in school word for word with what you wrote.

sorry, but all I remember from 7th grade is reading Harry Potter...

Harry Potter? Oh my. In 7th grade I remember being all excited about the Bicentennial coming up the next year. Apparently, I am US history.

Speaking of US history, I had a teacher in high school for US history who had what I know recognize as a red flag in that he consistently referred to the Civil War as the "War between the States". That, and some apologetics for the Klan as people who were just trying to keep order after the War, indicates I had some proto-Tea Party idiot as a teacher.

That surprises me about the pro-KKK history teacher.  I guess once you get tenured, you're free to spout whatever you like.

Wow. In comparison, my US History teacher was a souther white man with an NAACP membership. He was also present at the Kent State shooting, in the crowd.

He used to go on for ages about the importance of civil protesting, and how to fight off the effects of tear gas.

Comprehension level was really all I meant there.  I don't recall what age I started learning about stuff like that.

No, I mean Legal/Gov't stuff like amendments, separation of church and state, stuff like that.

As an aside, what's funny to me is the distinction between Greek "mythology" and Christian "Religion".  Apparently mythology is OK to teach in schools because it's simply a religion that no one believes in anymore.  It's only natural for to kids to relate "their" god to Greek gods when they're taught about them, so I imagine these kind of questions surface regularly.

Hopefully one day Christianity will have its own little mythology course in schools and kids won't have to ask, "Do you believe in ___?"

Interestingly, when I was in 9th grade, we had a "mythology" book in our World History I class, and one of the things covered in the book was Hinduism.  When I pointed out the incongruity (I was already firmly atheist) of including Hinduism with things like Norse and Greek mythology, but not including Abrahamic religions, my teacher agreed that that was pretty messed up.

But she was really open-minded and knew how strong of an atheist I was (and am), so she was a cool teacher anyway.

Erik, some adults are too young for that discussion!


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