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Wabash College
Wabash Center programs are funded by Lilly Endowment Inc.
Teaching Theology and Religion

Volume 17: Issue 1 – January 2014
(ABSTRACTS)

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ARTICLES

Getting Out of the Left Lane: The Possibility of White Antiracist Pedagogy
Karen Teel

This article maintains that knowledge of the literature on multicultural education and social justice pedagogy is indispensable for white college professors who desire to teach effectively about racial justice concerns. In exploring this literature, I have noticed that many publications either articulate theory or reflect on concrete classroom strategies, while relatively few deploy theory to evaluate specific attempts at teaching for justice. This seems to me a gap worth filling. Speaking as a white, conventionally trained, Catholic theologian, I begin by explaining why I deem it appropriate to employ antiracist pedagogy. I then demonstrate that the literature on multicultural education and social justice pedagogy is essential to this effort by utilizing both types of literature, theoretical and practical, to analyze my own strategies and goals to date. Throughout, I discuss white antiracist theological pedagogy not as an accomplished fact, but as an emerging endeavor. See a companion essay in this issue of the journal (Anna Floerke Scheid and Elisabeth T. Vasko, “Teaching Race: Pedagogical Challenges in Predominantly White Undergraduate Theology Classrooms”), and responses by the authors of both essays, also published in this issue of the journal (“Responses: Toward an Antiracist Pedagogy”).

Teaching Race: Pedagogical Challenges in Predominantly White Undergraduate Theology Classrooms
Anna Floerke Scheid
Elisabeth T. Vasko

While a number of scholars in the field of Christian theology have argued for the importance of teaching diversity and social justice in theology and religious studies classrooms, little has been done to document and assess formally the implementation of such pedagogy. In this article, the authors discuss the findings of a yearlong Scholarship of Multicultural Teaching and Learning (SoMTL) study, which examined student learning and faculty teaching regarding race and white privilege in two theology classrooms. After a brief overview of the study's design and execution, we reflect upon our findings and draw out implications for pedagogical practices. In particular we discuss students' emotional responses to the material and the role of cognitive dissonance in student learning with respect to racial inequality via social structures. See a companion essay in this issue of the journal (Karen Teel, “Getting Out of the Left Lane: The Possibility of White Antiracist Pedagogy”) and responses by the authors of both essays, also published in this issue of the journal (“Responses: Toward an Antiracist Pedagogy”).

RESPONSES

Response: Toward an Antiracist Pedagogy
Anna Floerke Scheid
Elisabeth T. Vasko
Karen Teel

The authors respond here to each other's essays published in this issue of the journal. In “Holding Us Accountable,” Anna Floerke Scheid and Elisabeth T. Vasko respond to Karen Teel's essay, “Getting Out of the Left Lane.” In “Challenges and Convergences,” Karen Teel responds to the essay “Teaching Race” by Anna Floerke Scheid and Elisabeth T. Vasko.

 

IN THE CLASSROOM

Note

Writing to Learn the Reformation: Or, Who Was Ulrich Zwingli And Why Should I Care?
Sherry Jordon

This article describes the use of “Writing to Learn” assignments in a course on the Theology of the Protestant and Catholic Reformations. These short, informal assignments promote active learning by focusing on writing as a process for critical thinking and as a way to learn the content of the course. They help students creatively engage with the texts, thoughtfully reflect on them, and critically assess their significance. This article describes the theory behind these assignments, provides examples of different types of assignments as well as excerpts from student papers, and concludes with an evaluation of their effectiveness. The students in the course found the assignments helpful in learning the content of the course and their attitude toward writing in this course significantly improved.

Conversation

The Devil in Mr. Smith: A Conversation with Jonathan Z. Smith
Jonathan Z. Smith
Thomas Pearson
Eugene V. Gallagher
Tim Jensen
Satoko Fujiwara

This interview was recorded in November 2012 in Jonathan Z. Smith's Hyde Park graystone. Professor Smith offers insights into how he thinks about his classroom teaching and his students' learning through descriptions of various assignments and classroom activities he has developed over more than forty years of teaching. The discussion ranges broadly over such topics as: how students read, the failure to adequately prepare graduate students as teachers, students' faith commitments, the use of newspapers (and humor) in the classroom, and the role of definition, de-familiarization, and critique of the study of religion in introductory classes. The discussion presents vivid glimpses into Jonathan Smith's teaching practice and his teaching persona, including the time a student brought a minister to class to do an exorcism because she thought he was the Devil.

Teaching Tactics

• Background Knowledge Probe
David B. Howell

• Conceiving Class Discussion as Improvisational Comedy
Mara Brecht

• Reading Together: The Art of Classroom Encounters with Primary Texts
Mark S. M. Scott

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