Teaching Adolescents Religious Literacy in a Post-9/11 World

Robert Nash, The University of Vermont
Penny A. Bishop, The University of Vermont

Published 2009

For thousands of years, religion has been a key element of human societies. Whenever we, as educators, exclude or minimize religion’s vast role in society, we leave out a large part of our world’s shared history. This is a serious act of educational omission, even neglect, on the part of our nation’s public middle and secondary schools, particularly when adolescents are so ready to engage in meaningful conversation about the world that surrounds them. Our book’s central purpose is to provide middle-level and high school teachers with the necessary background knowledge and pedagogical skills necessary to help adolescents become religiously literate learners and citizens. Currently, there is no text like ours on the market that both covers a number of world religions, and presents concrete recommendations for teaching and learning this material. Our book is meant to educate the following audiences: teacher educators, middle-level and high school teachers in all content areas, administrators, school boards, and parents.

For us, educating for religious literacy is all about bringing adolescents into the 21st century of teeming religious and spiritual diversity—a long-neglected component of the multicultural curriculum in public schools. In a post-9/11 world, religious literacy requires that students understand the whats and whys of differing religious beliefs, both in their own country and elsewhere. It means looking for commonalities, as well as differences, between and among the great wisdom traditions—both nationally and internationally. It is about understanding how all of us might live peacefully in a religiously diverse world. Our book accomplishes these goals by being informative, practical, experiential, case-based, and, above all, accessible to beginners.

Preface. 1 Making the Case. 2 The Narrative of Judaism. 3 The Narrative of Christianity. 4 The Narrative of Islam. 5 The Narrative of Hinduism. 6 The Narrative of Buddhism. 7 Religious Controversies and Misconceptions. 8 The Religious Literacy Toolbox. 9 Some Lesser Known Religious Narratives. Appendix A. References

"Teaching Adolescents Religious Literacy in a Post 9/11 World (TRL) is designed to aid middle and high schools teach about world religions. While TRL will be especially useful for courses in comparative and world religions, and while this is its main audience, the authors also hope that the book can aid teachers in different subjects, from math and science, to literature and social studies, to address religious issues." Walter Feinberg University of Illinois in Education Review (Read full review)

"Overall, this is an excellent work. The authors succeed in asserting and supporting their thesis that religious literacy can only be furthered if teachers of every subject become religiously literate themselves. They provide for how that can happen with examples provided from the major world religions. They even provide background information on each of these religions, which helps the teacher become literate. I would heartily recommend this book to all who teach high school and middle school regardless of subject matter." Matthew W. Peterson University of Pittsburgh in International Journal of Multicultural Education