To allow students to focus on a religion they don't know a lot about. To help them see what it might be like to practice a religion formally. To practice research skills.
For this assignment, you will need access to a variety of research materials about religion; the Internet, books, encyclopedias, and articles are good sources.
Mini Research Assignment on a Religion, Spiritual or Indigenous Tradition
This lesson requires consultation and coaching on the teacher's part. Students choose a religion to research and prepare a paper on the subject. We call it a "mini-research" project to decrease stress, but you could make it a much lengthier assignment for older kids or if you had a great deal of time. Students could do the research at home, or at school with the instructor as a guide. It isn't a problem for more than one student to do a particular religion. This is a wonderful opportunity for students to research something out of the ordinary and to follow a special interest, such as the Wicca religion, or the indigenous people of Australia.
Choose a religion or spiritual tradition you do not know very much about. Be sure you choose one that for some reason intrigues you enough to learn more.
Research the religion or spiritual tradition using the website resource list. You can also try elibrary.com and google.com. Feel free to use a real book as well!
Take notes on topics such as:
- Historical background information
- Basic belief system (one god, many gods, etc.)
- Sacred texts
- Key leaders
- Sacred spaces and places
- Rituals, services, or ceremonies
- Holidays, festivals and celebrations
- Demographics (how many people are members of this religion, what parts of the world, etc.)
Note: You won't need to research every topic above. Follow your interests as you research but try to cover at least 3-4 topics below in some way.
Write a research paper from the I point of view using this research. This means you will be pretending you are a member of the religion or spiritual tradition. The purpose of this is to better understand the religion or spiritual tradition at a more personal level (walking in another's shoes, so-to-speak). You are giving the reader a taste of what it is like to be a member of this religious or spiritual or indigenous tradition. You are not trying to write a complete description.
Students could read a favorite passage to the class, or they could trade papers in order to learn more about the religion other people chose.