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?
Kids of any age certainly do not enjoy being talked down too. I agree with your last sentence.
Do what you have to do in order to keep your job. However - you can also make your position very clear by how you say what you say.
Children absorb and take seriously what is said in a solemn tone or with great enthusiasm. So, be enthusiastic about evolution, the natural body processes, etc. Be as boring as possible when having to mention anything that has to do with creationism or Intelligent Design. They'll get the picture.
When confronted directly with questions, you could always say, "We're not allowed to talk about that here" all secretive and whispery. Likely you'll draw a blush from the child, so quickly move on to the next topic.
"...be enthusiastic about evolution, the natural body processes, etc. Be as boring as possible when having to mention anything that has to do with creationism or Intelligent Design. They'll get the picture. ..When confronted directly with questions, you could always say, 'We're not allowed to talk about that here' all secretive and whispery."
A lot of christians think passive-aggressive verbal manipulation is okay too, to present their agenda. It's not. This is devious and unacceptible no matter the subject. If you can't answer a simple question without trickery, why answer it at all?
Unless you are prone to any sanctions, simply tell your pupils the truth. The girl you mentioned did not ask you whether there be a god, but simply whether you personally believe in the Christian god. So what should be wrong with telling her what you truely believe?
She asked you what you believe. There was no need to lie about that. It might not be appropriate to insist that no god exists but you are perfectly at liberty to answer this question with honesty.
The best time to tell the truth is at your retirement party.
Tell the truth, but leave immediately after :-)
Tell the truth, but tell them it is a highly personal choice. You will teach them all to stand up for what they believe, even if it's unpopular. Hopefully it also teaches them to question, which should be the main focus of education anyway...
I hate being lied to, i was in 6th not to long ago, I wasn't dumb, most of them can probably handle it.
I wouldn't beat yourself up. It is a hard situation to be in and I would've probably done the same thing. If that little girl had gone home and told her parents that her teacher didn't believe it could've started a downward spiral.
That story reminds me of when I shed my 'faith', except it was 4th grade. I didn't ask if my teacher believed in a god, but learning the Scientific Method the period pretty much cemented my newfound non-belief.
"You might want to tell the girl that her family is not exactly lying, because they believe it themselves"
That's slippery slope when you are in a teaching position