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The Connection Between College Majors and Religious Faith


This item isn't exactly related to K-12 education, but I suspect it will garner a lot of attention among students and teachers at all levels. A recent study by researchers at the University of Michigan shows a decline in the religiosity of students who major in the humanities and social sciences, but a rise among those who study education and business.

Yet students who are highly religious tend to choose humanities and education majors at the outset, according to the study, which I first saw reported in the Christian Post. The results suggest "that there is something attractive about the humanities to students who are highly religious," the authors say. "This apparent attraction of the humanities is especially interesting," given the "dampening" effect on religious belief.

The results of the study are reported as a working paper of the National Bureau of Economic Research. I've linked to it, above.

Education majors, meanwhile, are "clearly a safe haven for the religious," the authors write. Highly religious people seem to prefer education majors, and they tend to stay in that major, their results show. "Highly religious people enter education majors, stay in them, and become more religious," they conclude.


To all of our frustations, we have long known that basically teachers teach the way they were taught. But I've always believed that the second reason why educators do their jobs the way they do was the result of their religious expereinces.

The hard sciences are viewed as anti-religion. Because of this, few religious people enter them or loose their religious view soon after entering them.

Good teachers do not teach the way they are taught. I figured that out my first year in 1981 in an effort to reach students who didn't learn the way I was taught nor the way I learned. With all the research on brain based learning, those traditional, behaviorist methods should be gone. At times, they may have a place but certainly shouldn't be the most used tools in a teacher's bag of tricks.

I've worked with religious people who teach the "hard sciences." The trick is balance. It's the same as history. Does a teacher believe in slavery just because s/he teaches it?

While I,too, believe what the other letter writers shared, was anybody else a little confused at first when the author of the article separated education from the humanities?

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