I teach at a small international elementary school in Ilsan, Goyang, South Korea. It’s also a religious school (Christian). While I am not religious myself (nor most of my colleagues), I don’t have a problem teaching here. In fact, I quite enjoy the freedom I have in my classroom and content instruction. My school uses curriculum published by Bob Jones University Press. BJU is a Christian institution, and their curriculum incorporate Christian values and worldviews into their lessons. Many of the lessons are fine, but the real challenge comes when the science curriculum.
How do you balance science and religion?
Science and religion are two hot-button issues. People get their panties in a bunch over these things, and it makes teaching them all the more difficult. Luckily at my school, the religious aspect isn’t heavily emphasized by the administrators or parents.
The book I use, BJU’s Science 4 student textbook, isn’t too bad when it comes to the religious stuff. The authors mention some relevant bible verses but the lessons are mostly about the scientific principles (which are spot on with a few exceptions). They keeps things basic (it’s for fourth graders after all), but the content is somewhat lacking overall. I teach the science first, then explain to my students that some Christians have a different view.
I want my students to understand the scientific principles as proven facts through observation and experimentation, but also let them know that science is a process we use to understand the physical, material world. I mention that it doesn’t seek to disprove religion, since religion seeks to give meaning to one’s life, and moral guidance. The two things have separate aims. I try to support an objective viewpoint, but that is quite hard to do, if not impossible. In any case, it’s a challenge teaching at a religious school when I am not religious.
I think it is an excellent exercise to examine ideas from different ways of thinking. How else can we understand one another if we don’t try to look at it from another angle?
How would you balance the two topics?