I think it’s time to bring God back into the classroom.

I had this revelation as my class and I were concluding an intense week looking at some of the research and literature around the idea of happiness – part of our semester-long inquiry, “What does it take to live a happy life?”  On one of the final days, we looked at the differences between meaning and happiness and whether it’s more important to have a meaningful life than a happy life; the research seems to say that the two ideas are definitely not synonymous.  It was during this discussion that I had the realization that we needed to talk about God.  Not a God.  Not the God.  Just God.  Whether you believe in some supreme power or not, there are billions of people in the world who find meaning in life through faith in a deity.

To introduce the topic of God, I showed the following videos to my class – both are worth a watch.

What I love about the clip from “The Great Kahuna” with Kevin Spacey and Danny DeVito is its admission that to be human means to have questions about God.  To wonder about God.  It’s a profound clip.  To complement this video, I found one that examines the question, “Is God Useful?” in a much more philosophically rigorous way.  Both of these videos effectively opened up the door for my class to talk about their thoughts, fears, and ideas about God.  It didn’t take long for me to realize that all of my students (who come from a wide variety of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds) have thoughts about God, spirituality, and religion.  Some of my students are going through a profound period of time where they are critically analyzing what they believe, and their identities are hanging in the balance.  The discussion was rich, and the journals that were written afterwards were profound.

Nothing was decided at the end of the class; no conclusion was reached except for the fact that talking about God is important, and that our belief, or lack of belief in God has significant implications in our search for meaning and happiness.

I think that talking about God in school is important.  Not what to think, but how to think about God.  There seem to be very few opportunities for people, whether you’re a high school student or about to retire, to talk openly and honestly about God.  It seems to be a topic that makes people uncomfortable, perhaps because of their own unanswered questions.  But it’s those very questions and the unknowns that can make this conversation so rich.  It’s in the search for answers that we find meaning and purpose.  And if schools are to develop students into the critically-reflective individuals and citizens we want to see in the world, we need to provide the tools and space to address the deep things they’re thinking about.

What better place to do this than in school?