We are excited to share a new video of renowned workplace thought leader, Ted Childs, Principal of Ted Childs, LLC, sharing his thoughts on the necessity of Tanenbaum’s Workplace Program and proactively addressing religious diversity in the workplace.
“The risk for companies who ignore the global issue of religion is loss of talent, loss of marketplace access.”Childs explains the business imperative of proactively addressing religious diversity and shares his own experiences of meeting the challenges of managing a diverse workforce.
December is a time of celebration and family togetherness for many Americans – and not just those who celebrate Christmas as a sacred holiday or cultural event. Jews celebrate Hanukkah, Buddhists celebrate Bodhi Day, many African Americans celebrate Kwanzaa, and cultures across the world celebrate the Winter Solstice.
For educators, however, the convergence of so many holidays can create The December Dilemma: how to acknowledge and respect the wide variety of traditions students and their families hold dear without implying that some are more important than others.
Turn this dilemma into an opportunity for promoting inclusion and religious literacy. Teach your students about the many ways people celebrate in December – and throughout the year. Use our holiday planning template to create a yearlong schedule of holidays to explore in your classroom.
• Read our information-packed blog post, Teaching the Holidays: The December Dilemma
• Download an elementary-level lesson on the Winter Solstice.
• Download an elementary-level lesson on Rituals and Traditions about Light: Hopefulness and Waiting.
• Check out Tanenbaum’s curricula for all grade levels.
Responding With Empathy and Respect to Belief Systems
By: Sara Wicht
Senior Manager for Teaching and Learning at Teaching Tolerance
Overview: Tanenbaum and Teaching Tolerance share tips for coaching students during class discussions on religious and nonreligious beliefs.
The second webinar in the series, Fostering a Culture of Respect, offered ways for educators to help students feel safe, supported and respected when discussing religious and nonreligious belief systems. The webinar and after-session pack are available online if you have not had a chance to look at these resources yet.
Participants asked some great questions during and after Fostering a Culture of Respect, and we’d like to respond to a few we think are relevant to many educators. In this blog, we’ll address this question:
How can I coach students to respond to others with empathy and respect?
Hearing these prompts from you can help students engage more empathetically and respectfully during conversations about religious and nonreligious beliefs.
1. “Find out more.” Cultivate an inquisitive attitude in students by encouraging them to seek out information from a variety of voices within a given belief system. Ask students to formulate and pose open-ended questions. Here are some examples of questions that can guide research and in-class discussions:
- What is the origin of the religious or nonreligious belief system?
- In what parts of the world is the belief system practiced?
- What are some texts that describe or include the belief system?
- What are the foundations of the belief system?
- How is the belief system perceived around the world?
- Do you know anyone who practices this belief system? What do they say about what they believe?
2. “Be aware of the pitfalls of easy comparisons.” When dealing with academic content related to religion, students will encounter ideas about deities, time, the purpose of life, who we are as individuals and who we are as members of our communities, among others. These ideas may be hard to grasp or may feel foreign to students because they have developed out of many traditions, which are sometimes very different from students’ individual traditions.
Students may attempt to contextualize these new ideas by comparing them to concepts from their own traditions or cultural practices. Although this is a helpful practice in gaining a better understanding of ourselves through the exploration of the world around us, it is important they understand and discuss religious and nonreligious views without distorting or oversimplifying them. Comparisons not given thoughtful inquiry can lead to stereotypes and stereotyping. That means not making hasty comparisons between belief systems or using comparisons as the go-to way to discuss another belief system.
3. “Avoid generalized or simplified statements.” These types of statements imply easy answers such as “Islam is …” or “Hinduism means … ” or “Atheists think … ” Instead, when discussing religious and nonreligious beliefs with students, remind them that religions are internally diverse, dynamic and embedded in culture. Use sources that reflect and provide examples of these qualities.
Students can practice being more nuanced in their thinking by articulating the subtleties they see. For example, they might say, “This text presents Islam as …” or “The author here indicates that … ” Many religious traditions use storytelling to illustrate central concepts, such as parables in Christianity or Native American oral histories. These can also be great sources for literacy instruction on imagery, symbolism and allusion—and help students to point to nuances in meaning, interpretation and practice.
4. “See religious and nonreligious traditions as diverse and dynamic.” If students are critical of all or part of a particular belief system because it contradicts their values, ask them to find out more about how different adherents of that belief system criticize or propose changing the religion or practices in question. Emphasize, too, that religious and nonreligious belief systems are internally diverse. In Hinduism, for example, some have a personal god and others deny the presence of a deity. Find diverse voices from within the belief system being explored.
5. “Be honest about the limits of our understanding.” Acknowledge and help students to accept that there are limits to our understanding about belief systems. While we can learn a lot about them, we cannot completely understand the lived experiences of people or how their belief system influences their identity and daily lives. It’s also important not to turn individual students into spokespersons of particular religious or nonreligious beliefs.
Stay tuned for additional follow-up blogs that address participants’ questions. The next one will answer this question: How can I respectfully ask questions about identities different from my own?
Wicht is the senior manager for teaching and learning at Teaching Tolerance.
In the middle of a lesson, one of your students raises her hand and asks, “Isn’t there only one God?” Another student says, “That’s stupid! There is no god.”
How can your response help both of these students feel safe, supported and respected? How do you encourage them to be respectfully curious about each other’s ideas?
By creating a classroom culture in which religious diversity is accepted.
That may sound complicated, but Tanenbaum and Teaching Tolerance show you how in the second part of our FREE Religious Diversity in the Classroom webinar series:Fostering a Culture of Respect.
Participants in the webinar will learn:
- strategies for creating classroom environments that reflect religious diversity;
- tips for responding to religious intolerance in the classroom; and
- approaches for supporting students’ religious and non-religious identities.
Don’t forget to watch this recording of the first webinar in the Religious Diversity in the Classroom series, What’s law got to do with it?
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you know 84% of the U.S. population identifies as religious?
Did you know that this has significant impact on the health care decisions of patients and families?
Did you ever wonder how physicians can better address this topic with their patients?
To help answer these questions, Tanenbaum released today two free, downloadable training resources for medical educators.
Religious and Cultural Competence for Medical Students: Advancing Patient-Centered Care includes two self-contained 90-minute class/sessions:
- Trigger Topics: Where Religion & Health Care Intersect
- Spiritual Histories: Putting Religio-Cultural Competence into Practice
Last month we released Improving Patient Care through Religious and Cultural Competence: A Training Program for Residents, a curriculum that provides more extensive resources and addresses even more topics including:
- Culture & Mental Health: The impact of Religion on Diagnosis and Treatment
- Professionalism: When Religion, Conscience and Health Care Clash
- Health Disparities for LGBT Youth: The Role of Religion
- Religion and Culture in an Outpatient Clinic Setting
Click here to download the free resource Religious and Cultural Competence for Medical Students: Advancing Patient-Centered Care.
Click here to learn more about and purchase Tanenbaum’s training program for residents.
Please share this information with your colleagues and networks.
If you have any questions, email healthcare@Tanenbaum.org or call 212.967.7707.
Religious and Cultural Competence for Medical Students: Advancing Patient-Centered Care was made possible with the generous support of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and the Louis and Rachel Rudin Foundation. The comprehensive residency program, Improving Patient Care through Religious and Cultural Competence: A Training Program for Residents, was made possible with the generous support of the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations.