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Teaching About Religion: AAR Guidelines for K-12 Public Schools

American Academy of Religion Guidelines for Teaching About Religion in K–12 Public Schools in the United States 

"AAR Board Approves Guidelines for Teaching About Religion in K-12 Public Schools" 
Published in Religious Studies News, May 2010.

Excerpt from the RSN article:

At its meeting in April [2010], the AAR Board [of Directors] unanimously approved the American Academy of Religion Guidelines for Teaching About Religion in K–12 Public Schools in the United States. The document is the product of a three-year initiative undertaken by the Religion in the Schools Task Force in consultation with educators and the broad constituency of the AAR. The Guidelines are written for public school teachers, administrators, members of school boards, and other citizens to provide guidance for how to teach about religion in intellectually sound ways from the nonsectarian perspective appropriate for public schools. Contrary to popular opinion, religion is embedded in state standards across the K–12 spectrum and is especially prominent in English and social studies curricula. In spite of this fact, very few educators have been trained in the religious studies methods required to teach this content responsibly. Furthermore, until now there were no guidelines produced by religious studies scholars comparable to those available in other disciplines that focus on K–12 educational contexts. Given that religion is widely misunderstood and often controversial, this gap in training and resources placed teachers in an untenable situation. Our hope is that these guidelines will provide a useful tool for them as they face the challenges and opportunities that teaching about religion entails.

The fifty-page document is divided into four main sections that address: 1) Why teaching about religion is important; 2) The distinction between a devotional approach to religion and a non-devotional religious studies approach appropriate for public schools; 3) How to teach about religion with a variety of approaches, pedagogical strategies, and “snapshots” of classroom practices across the K–12 spectrum; and 4) The content and skill competencies required for teachers to teach about religion in intellectually sound ways. The document also includes endnotes, a bibliography of works cited, and appendices that offer additional practical resources and suggestions.