The Religious Education department is a unique aspect of Kodaikanal International School (KIS) that offers added value to its students and to the community as a whole. KIS is both a Christian school and a multicultural school. As such, the Religious Education department exposes students not only to Christianity but also to a wide variety of world religions and philosophies as well.
The Religious Education (RE) department is under “Individuals and Societies” in the IB programme. Just as a person from one culture may study about another culture without changing their identity, so students from many different religious and philosophical backgrounds are encouraged to study aspects of Christianity, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, as well as atheism and agnosticism without any pressure whatsoever to change their personal religious beliefs. Respect for all religious backgrounds and beliefs is encouraged and, in fact, expected.
In the PYP level, the instruction stays focused on Christianity. However, at the MYP level, this begins to slowly open up until by grade 10 all major world religions have been looked at. In the DP level, an IB world religion course is offered. However, all other grade 11 students are required to take at least one one semester RE course. Those who have not taken 9th grade “Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ” are offered a shorter “Christian Teachings” course and those who have enrolled earlier are offered a course on “Ethics.” Non-IB students, who need an additional one semester RE credit in 12th grade, can choose the world religion they wish to investigate further for a paper and class presentation.
Given the fact that we live in a world often torn apart by religious conflict and intolerance, the primary focus of the Religious Education department at KIS is to help bridge these divides with empathy and respect.
Every Thursday evening at 7:00 pm or 7:15 pm, dorm students at KIS gather in their respective social rooms for a dorm devotion. It is one opportunity in of an otherwise busy week to sit for a few minutes as a group and to focus on a spiritual and scriptural principle or topic. Young people today are faced with many issues – from peer pressure to bullying to drugs and alcohol and how to deal with stress. Dorm devotions give an opportunity to address these types of issues – as well as to point to the love of Jesus Christ for all.
Each week, the Chaplain provides a devotion through the Dean’s office for the dorm parents to read.
For students, a visiting dorm devotion leader is an additional opportunity to interact with staff members outside of a classroom setting and to ask difficult or personal questions – if they are so inclined. For staff members who take time out to visit the dorms, it is an added personal blessing and a chance to show their genuine concern for the students and the issues that they face.