What would you do if your child came home with this assignment from his high school’s World History class? (I’m going to ignore the precarious position of the male child…)
And what if this followed another assignment in which the Ten Commandments were discussed in regards to how they changed the lives of the escaped slaves and how Moses received them from God?
Well, I’d want some more information about this teacher and this class. I’d want to know if Muhammad and other prophets are presented in a similar way (since they, too, impacted World History). I’d want to know the nature of the discussions they have in class. I’d want to know where the teacher was getting these handouts from…
It’s possible that the teacher is not-so-subtlely proselytizing in class. But it’s also possible the teacher is sincerely ignorant and has no idea she’s pushing any legal boundaries (if she hasn’t already crossed them).
How do you handle it? Well, the parents in question emailed the teacher explaining their concerns (and shared their email with me):
My husband and I thought it best to come to you about some concerns we have about the course material/work.
This is the third day [our son] has brought us his work. As much as I appreciate the relevance and importance of Christianity on modern geography, I am concerned that the material is a little “Sunday School”.
There is a huge focus on Jesus as the foundation of Christianity. I don’t disagree with that historically, but I do take exception to the handouts [our son] has completed.
I did grit my teeth through a few of them, as Jewish and early Christianity are very pertinent to World History, but today’s paper has us scratching our heads. First, it seems a little age inappropriate, these are high school kids after all, not 3rd graders. Secondly, this seems like a lesson sheet for a private school geared towards a belief in Jesus.
I don’t doubt that your intention is to teach how religion shaped the map, I am just concerned that it is becoming a bit one sided.
We would like to discuss this further, at your convenience. Perhaps an understanding of your lesson material (above the course description sheet) would help ease our minds.
Please contact us as soon as possible. I do not want this to become a thorn, irritating us all year. I believe in up front transperency. If we are equipped, we can support the learning materials and reinforce their importance at home.
Thank you for your time.
Very Truly Yours,
I think that email strikes a nice balance between we-just-want-to-know-what-you’re-trying-to-do and we’ll-take-action-if-we-need-to. Maybe it’s too kind. But it opens the door to a conversation and a more aggressive email might have prevented a real dialogue. If anything, I would make sure to CC the Department Chair or an administrator at the school on that email to show that you’re serious about this.
Would you have handled this situation any differently?