There is much debate regarding the place of Religion within the world of Education. Of course, the idea of Religion without Education seems just like any other decisions that may be made without proper Education - Ignorance.
But what role should Religion itself play in Academia? Should students be subjected to various points of view that may shake their existing beliefs? Is it wrong for students to question what they grow up? Can anyone really call something a "belief" without deeply seeking to understand its gravity? Because Religion is such a largely personal decision process, there are many differing opinions on the matter. Fortunately, in the United States, we are granted the right to make these decisions independently of state or federal interference.
Another point of discussion is the role of religion in the age of online learning. Getting a degree online has significantly changed the role of religion in education. As student bodies become more dispersed, the traditional connection that religion provides to other faithful classmates has become, in itself, more virtual. While this is not necessarily a bad change in and of itself, more traditional religions have been slow to adapt new technology and networking. Religions have yet to adapt to the technological demands that dispersed virtual campuses demand.
In theory a proper Religion will consumer a fair share of one's life. Sure, there are plenty of those out there who choose not to dedicate themselves to such matters, but that should be recognized as a lack of religious involvement or perhaps even a lack of interest. Those who do intend to to develop a strong tie to whatever it is that they believe should consider it their duty and, typically, joy to pursue knowledge on the matter. So is this a completely personal effort or is there a place for it in common Education?
After all, with so many subjects and areas of study already becoming a focus for at least a minimal duration throughout the scholastic process, Religion should be considered necessary. The idea behind post-secondary education is that students are enrolling in a program with the intention of enhancing their own minds and becoming a fully-rounded individual. Is the exploration of Religious ideas not a part of this process? Even if one does reject Spiritual or Divine principles, must they not first be cognizant of and familiar with said principles before they can fairly dismiss these notions?
Regardless of what you choose to believe, it is important to realize that Education should deal with every part of your life. Approach all things with a critical mind and in this you will find and understand your own self. Even if you are so confident in your belief that you would go so far as to call an opposing view "wrong," you at least owe yourself an explanation as to why. Religion starts with the mind. Even if, depending on your belief or claim, it moves through the heart, it is first born into the mind. Let's explore the relationship between Educations and the world's five largest Religions.
Throughout the history of Buddhism, Spiritual Leaders known as Monks have been taken it upon themselves to provide Moral Education to the general public. In the 1800's, the original home of Buddhism, Thailand, began undergoing intense Educational reforms as a nation to help prepare for the growing influence of Western culture. One of the strongest effects of this reform was the strengthening of the relationship between the Religion and Education. Today, Buddhists believe that while the Religion itself is a Spiritual journey rather than an Academic one, all tasks should be completed within the cranial realm of Buddhism.
While Zen Buddhists may frown upon modern education as grounds for Capitalistic promotion, the influence of the worldwide emphasis placed on trade and commerce has had its effect. In modern Buddhist teaching, students are prepared for Spiritual growth and stability rather than certain careers, but most students personalize their journey in some fashion that falls between these two lines.
In America, the public image of Christianity has been getting worse and worse because of political extremists claiming that their views are taken from Scriptures. Unfortunately, these views are largely taken out of context and rarely feasible when compared to the cumulative message delivered through the religion's Holy Book, the Bible. The roots of Christianity as traced back to the historical documentation of its namesake central figure, Jesus Christ, reveal the belief to be an incredibly thoughtful and Academic journey.
Christianity is divided into many very unique and diverse Denominations, with many additional groups who claim the Religion as their own but, in accordance to the doctrine to which they subscribe could be more accurately described as Occultist. Part of this is because of the many ways Christianity has been spread throughout time. To fairly view the Religion in the light with which it was intended rather than what our peers have made it, it is impossible to ignore the academic contributions of the Christian faith. In fact, the idea of Liberal Arts education stems largely from the Catholic sect of the Christian community.
Hinduism is a polytheistic religion that was founded on the Indian subcontinent, where it is still most heavily practiced today. Hinduism is largely followed through the teachings of the Vedas, among other Sruti and Smriti. According to the Dharma, which is the Religious Living belief of the Religion, Hindus must treat Religion itself somewhat philosophically by following through the Vedanta, Yoga and Samkhya principles. The content of these is what determines good conduct and good life in Hinduism.
Hinduism can be easily applied to the construct of a Liberal Arts Education because of the amount of significance Hindus are taught to place on everything that they encounter. Because of the polytheistic Religious structure, Hindus are easily able to process information from various sources about many subjects and find a way to relate the topics efficiently. In fact, many Indian-born Hindus complete post-graduate work in India and venture into other nations to study completely unrelated material.
Fundamentalist Islamic teaching does instruct its followers, known as Muslims, to empower themselves through and through while remaining subserviant and faithful to the Religion's Diety, Allah. One of the key ways this strengthening can be accomplished is through Education. Islamic men are generally called to become leaders in their own rights, with a family being considered a unit in need of a head. This means being able to make appropriate and responsible decisions - even those that pertain to the well-being of women and children.
Islam does undergo a large share of scrutiny because of the role of women in Islamic society. Islam does place a heavy emphasis on a woman serving the man to whom she is attached with her life. Women do not have the same rights or opportunities as men, and, in many instances, a large part of what holds these women back is their lack of ability to earn a proper education. Whereas other Religions do show the importance of Education in a beneficial and promising light, Islam shows us the unfortunate situation humans may fall into without the opportunity to become properly learned.
The Jewish faith reaches far beyond the walls of a Tabernacle and transcends a weekly meetup where like-minded individuals come together to review Scriptures. Jews are among the most absolutely devoted Religious figures on the planet. Everything that Jews do, from the way they raise their kids to the style with which they wear their hair, is defined by their Holy Book, the Torah. One of the largest elements in the Jewish Educational structure is the devotion to "lifelong learning," which is heavily instilled in children from a very young age.
Jews subscribe to the belief that not only should they be incredibly well-versed in Scripture and Ritual, but also very productive members of society. Jews often move into leadership roles within communities often strive to become representatives of public well-being and a communal source of knowledge in many fields - particularly where commerce and trade are concerned.
Religious exploration is an incredibly personal process and this is the way it should be. No one is able to properly make this decision for you. Just remember before you make your mind up that by not thoroughly investigating and understanding a belief, you're only cheating yourself. Leave no stone unturned, and take advantage of the role Academic Fulfillment may play in your search.
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