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The Mock Conference as a Teaching Tool: Role Play and “Conplay” in the Classroom

TTR
Ricker, Aaron, Peterfeso, Jill, Zubko, Katherine C., Yoo, William and Blanchard, Kate
2018
Teaching Theology and Religion 21, no. 1 (2018): 60-72
BL41.T4 v.21 no. 1
Topics: Teaching Religion   |   Learning Designs   |   Role-Playing   |   Constructivist & Active Learning Theory

Additional Info:
In our ostensibly secular age, discussing the real-world contexts and impacts of religious traditions in the classroom can be difficult. Religious traditions may appear at different times to different students as too irrelevant, too personal, or too inflammatory to allow them to engage openly with the materials, the issues, and each other. In this “Design & Analysis” article Aaron Ricker describes an attempt to address this awkward pedagogical situation with an experiment in role-play enacted on the model of a mock conference. This description is followed by four short responses by authors who have experimented with this form of pedagogy themselves. In “Conplay,” students dramatize the wildly varying and often conflicting approaches to biblical tradition they have been reading about and discussing in class. They bring the believers, doubters, artists, and critics they have been studying into the room, to interact face-to-face with each other and the class. In Ricker's experience, this playful and collaborative event involves just the right amount of risk to allow high levels of engagement and retention, and it allows a wide range of voices to be heard in an immediate and very human register. Ricker finds Conplay to be very effective, and well worth any perceived risks when it comes to inviting students to take the reins.