CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Summarizing the Debate on Religion in the Classroom

History, Religious Studies
1 to 2 lessons
To identify and understand the pro and con positions in a debate
Students will explore the site to understand fully the pro and con positions in the debate, then work in groups to summarize the information.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Ask students to write an entry in their personal response journals that explains how they feel about the teaching of religion in the classroom.

Outline the Opportunity

Students will participate in a group discussion of the pro and con positions in the debate on Religion in the Classroom. If students have not completed the related activities on this topic, give them time to browse it on the CBC Digital Archives website. If they have completed other activities, they can review any notes they have made.

Create the following role cards:

  • Card One: Leader -- keep group on task, lead the discussion, encourage everyone to participate
  • Card Two: Reporter -- summarize the work completed, present and explain it to the class
  • Card Three: Recorder -- take notes on the work completed
  • Card Four: Summarizer -- note the main points of the discussion, checking for errors and omissions, and asking for clarification where necessary

Divide the class into groups of four. In each group, each student must choose a card and take on the role described during the group's discussion. (A fifth group member can share the duties of the summarizer.) Have groups begin their discussions, outlining both the pro and the con positions of the debate.

In the discussion, specific references should be made to points outlined in the website. For instance, the clip "Court challenges arise over prayers in the classroom" refers to religious exercises, such as the repeating of the Lord's Prayer infringing on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In 1988 the Ontario Court of Appeal Subsection 28 (1) of Regulation 262, concerning religious exercises in public elementary schools, was struck down. As a result, one religion cannot be given a position of primacy, and a school's opening and closing exercises must reflect the multicultural realities and traditions of Ontario society. According to the Ministry of Education, readings chosen for opening exercises "can impart social, moral, or spiritual values that are representative of our multicultural society."

Revisit and Reflect

Ask the reporter from one of the groups to summarize the pro position of the debate. Then have the reporter from another group summarize the con position. Reporters from the other groups can add any information not covered. Each student can create a chart in his or her notebook to summarize each position in the debate.


Have students write a personal essay that explores this topic further and relates their own opinion for or against the teaching of religion in public schools.

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