At the secondary level, students are often aware of modern world events and issues as they step into the classroom. Along with that knowledge often comes questions and concerns, and sometimes confusion and anxiety. Yet teaching modern issues in the secondary classroom, especially when similarities are addressed, can help to break down walls that have been built for centuries. More importantly, addressing modern issues and recognizing similarities among groups can help to build a new, more positive future.
Teaching World Religions is one of those issues that can help to make a huge difference in our futures and the way humans interact with one another. All too often, in conversations on religion, the differences are highlighted while the similarities are overlooked or even ignored. This leaves us feeling as though we are separate entities with nothing in common and no reason to like each other, much less get along.
While this argument may seem simplistic for adults, it can be very influential for our students. However, when we highlight the similarities, we can help students identify with those who are different, and we can teach an appreciation of that difference rather than helping to fuel flames of hatred through ignorance.
In the end, the lesson is simple. Teach what matters most. Teach our students that we are all alike in the areas that matter. And our beliefs are important, too. But what is most important is that we respect each other in those different views and live peacefully despite the difference!