I pose this question as a follow-up to our last blog (“Culture + Fun = Learning All Year”) about incorporating cultural teachings into our classroom. When we bring in culture, must we bring in religion? Many of us in the public school system, feel the slightest bit of unease when religious concepts enter our rooms. Yet, how can we celebrate important days like Los Reyes or El Día de los Muertos or view masterpieces from Goya or El Greco, without touching on religion?
Religion is woven into the fabric of Spanish vocabulary, idioms and expressions and to say that it has no place in our classrooms is to deny relevant, meaningful communication skills to our students.
¡Vaya con Dios!
Si Dios quiere…
¡Ay Dios mío!
Religion is an integral part of Spanish culture and culture is an integral part of Spanish language. To try to extricate religious associations from the language we teach is not only impossible, but unnecessary. To be safe and respectful, follow these 3 rules:
- Communicate with school administration: Before the year begins, find out what school policies are regarding religion in the classroom. Let administration know of your plans to celebrate certain holidays or to watch certain movies. Always put your plans in writing and get written permission from the powers that be.
- Communicate with colleagues: Be respectful of your coworkers. You are a Spanish teacher and teaching culture is second nature to you, but other teachers may have different experiences. Take time to have open conversations about your plans and invite staff to your room participate in class festivities.
- Communicate with parents: This has to be the cardinal rule before planning any cultural activity in your class. Always send a letter home explaining exactly what your plans are and include links for parents to read even more about whatever concept their children will be studying. Be available to answer questions parents have about the activity and provide a relevant “Plan B” for students unable to participate.
ACTFL’s World Readiness Standard for Culture states that learners will, “Interact with cultural competence and understanding.” In order for our students to be competent in Spanish language, they must be exposed to a varied cultural landscape.
Therefore, teach your students about Spanish culture. Appreciate the strong religious roots from which Spanish evolved. Guide your children to be respectful and tolerant ambassadors of language learning and maybe they will help create a more tolerant and respectful world. Ojalá…