Date Written

Spring 4-15-2015

Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name

Middle Childhood Education-BSE

Department

Education

Advisor

Diane Ross, PhD

First Committee Member

Diane Ross, PhD

Second Committee Member

Kristin Reninger, PhD

Third Committee Member

Meredith Frey, PhD

Keywords

religion, education, beliefs, classroom, teacher

Subject Categories

Education | Religion

Abstract

This qualitative research project explores how a teacher’s organized religious beliefs may influence their practice and the choices they make in the classroom. Such areas of impact include character development, classroom management, development of lesson plans, the handling of difficult parents and colleagues, discipline, and a teacher’s overall attitude while teaching. It is recognized that there are many hidden ways our beliefs shape the choices we make. This project focuses specifically on how organized religious beliefs and practices affect an educator’s choices. The research involved the interviewing of nine educators from the Ohio school system ranging from those who teach kindergarten to professors at universities. Private religious school teachers as well as public were interviewed using the same list of questions for each. Though a wider array of religions and non-religions was desired to be studied and represented, only those of Judaism, Christianity, and atheism are present in this study.* Five themes emerged from the data and were analyzed. Overall, the teachers who considered themselves to be Christian or Jewish seemed to be heavily influenced by their religious beliefs while the atheist teachers were not as influenced and tended to keep religion out of their classroom as much as possible. This study shows the importance of educator’s recognizing their religious influences and choices they make. In previous studies, religion in the classroom has been found to have both positive and negative effects. Teachers have a strong influence on the students they teach and must be aware of how the choices they make, by what they say or do, impacts the students they teach.

* It is important to note that atheism is a view on religion, but it is not a religion itself.

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