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Abstract

The school environment is a place of forced contact between diverse peoples. It is the perfect environment to nurture the diverse identities present. The influences on identity (i.e., language, ethnicity, religion, etc.) shape how students perceive information and learn. Some educators use these influences to help them instruct students. However, often overlooked is the influence of religious practices on language use and behavior in classrooms. This paper argues that the significance of understanding the religious practices of students is equally as important for planning instruction as knowing any other aspect of their culture, (i.e., the students’ native language(s)). Framed by principles of interfaith dialogue, the paper highlights a few examples of language use and behavior at the intersection of religion and education. The author argues that using the religious beliefs of students as strengths of their identity might eliminate some of the misunderstandings in the classroom and help establish an environment of mutual acceptance which might lead to deeper learning. Additionally, dialogue that includes aspects of religious practices might help students makes sense of the world and foster collaboration in the larger society.

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