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Learning Guide       

Grounding Yourself


Knowledge Goals

Attitude Goals

Steps in Learning Strategy

Continuation Activities

Putting Your Knowledge to Work in the Classroom

Sharing Your Materials


Success in maintaining a level playing field for all the students, irrespective of their life stance or outlook regarding religion, requires adequate preparation. This lesson touches on some of the complexity in typical "religion stew" situations and addresses how you fit in.  It offers important grounding and useful terminology.

To achieve classroom neutrality, a teacher must avoid the pitfall of bias.  It helps, too, to employ the best available guiding principles.  You will find both pitfalls and principles embedded throughout the lesson. 

Knowledge Goals


Identify some complexities associated with religious diversity in a classroom that a teacher must acknowledge in order to respond effectively


Articulate your own positioning within the religious diversity kaleidoscope and examine likely consequences with reference to your "classroom society"

Attitude Goals


Aim for a detached objectivity across varied worldviews (a suitable stance for your teaching)


Be sensitive to problems of using language that is inherently not neutral or not inclusive

Steps in Learning Strategy    

  1. Decide how to label your worldview position.
  2. Examine your own cultural positioning and personality in light of the challenge of religious neutrality (Teacher's Comfort Zone)
  3.  Refine your conceptions as you read about religious diversity within familiar classroom context (Classroom Complexities)
  4. Identify some elements of your own worldview. 
  5. Check out three concepts likely to come in handy (The "Idea Jar")

Go to Learning Guide

GLOSSARY TERM:  detached objectivity

Continuation Activities

Options for your consideration

  1. Reading: Chapter 2, "From Many One," in A New Religious America, by Diana Eck (2001).  
    Professor Eck reinterprets the E Pluribus Unum concept in a new circumstance—the ever more religiously diverse nation.  She asks that we engage our varied religious traditions (many) within the context of our civil society (one).

  2. Reading: Chapter 7, "Religious and Secular Ethics," in Educating for Intelligent Belief or Unbelief, by Nel Noddings (1993).
    This 18-page chapter is rich in commentary and terminology that will aid any teachers' fashioning of a personal pedagogical approach to ticklish subject matter within a context where there exists a plurality of values and beliefs. Directed at educators, the chapter's topics are: personal morality, relations to individual others; moral life in the community; ethics and social responsibility.

Putting Your Knowledge to Work in the Classroom

Web Activity: Mottos Exploration (Grades 6-12)
Gist of Idea:  Have students gather various mottos from the web, then decide who is included or excluded.  The following example table will help your students to organize their data.  Click here for a class duplication work sheet--print and then use your browser's BACK button to return here.

  Examples of mottos are easy to find.  Choose a good search engine (like www.google.com) and enter search terms such as [mottos] [mottos states] [mottos canada] [mottos international] . Here are two web sites to start you off:

U.S.A. state mottoes: www.teachervision.com/lesson-plans/lesson-607/htm

Canadian state mottoes:

Canada: A mari usque ad mare (Latin, "From sea to sea")

Alberta: Fortis et liber (Latin, "Strong and free")

British Columbia: Splendor sine occasu (Latin, "Splendour without diminishment")

Manitoba: Gloriosus et liber (Latin, "Glorious and free")

New Brunswick: Spem reduxit (Latin, "Hope was restored")

Newfoundland and Labrador: Quaerite primum regnum dei (Latin, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God")

Nova Scotia: Munit haec et altera vincit (Latin, "One defends and the other conquers")

Nunavut: Nunavut sanginivut (Inuktitut, "Nunavut our strength" or "Our land, our strength")

Ontario: Ut incepit fidelis sic permanet (Latin, "Loyal she began, loyal she remains")

Prince Edward Island: Parva sub ingenti (Latin, "The small under the protection of the great")

Quebec: Je me souviens (French, "I remember")

Saskatchewan: Multis e gentibus vires (Latin, "From many peoples, strength")


This is a sample of the student work sheet
Organization Motto Whom does it include? Whom does it exclude?

Web Activity: Gender free language (Grades 6-12)
Gist of Activity:  Have students gather examples of gender-free language from the web and then discuss the ease of use of any changes from their customary language.  Examples of gender-free language sites are easy to find.  Choose a good search engine (like www.google.com) and enter search terms  [gender-free language].  Click here for a class duplication work sheet--print and then use your browser's BACK button to return here.

This is a sample of the student work sheet

Term that is NOT gender free Create better words to make the term gender free

Sharing Your Materials

Have you prepared any lesson plans, activities, bulletin board materials, handouts, etc. that would match one or more of the goals of this lesson?  Please share them with others.  Your name will be attached to the materials unless you prefer to remain anonymous.

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