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ERIC Number: EJ1096718
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 22
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: EISSN-1551-0670
The "Ins" and "Outs" of Rural Teachers: Who Are Atheists, Agnostics, and Freethinkers
Howley, Aimee; Howley, Craig; Dudek, Marged
Journal of Research in Rural Education, v31 n2 2016
Perhaps the most maligned group of people in the United States, atheists and other nonbelievers (e.g., agnostics and freethinkers) reside everywhere and are employed in every field. Disclosure of nonbelief generally imposes costs, such as alienation from family and associates or even loss of employment. As a result, nonbelievers often disguise their views about the existence of a god. This article reports findings from a qualitative study based on interviews with 24 nonbelieving teachers in rural schools across the United States, illuminating the ways these teachers position themselves professionally and intellectually in communities with relative homogeneity of cultural beliefs and practices. Using a person-oriented mode of analysis, the study identified four types of rural non-believing teachers: community insiders or outsiders who disclosed or did not disclose their nonbelief. Their decisions about self-disclosure intersected with community attachment, pedagogical judgments, and regionality, but common across the types was teachers' determination to cultivate their students' thinking. Most teachers believed that intellectual skepticism did not require religious skepticism. This perspective, however, sometimes conflicted with local expectations that public schools inculcate Christian beliefs.
Penn State University College of Education, Center on Rural Education and Communities. 310B Rackley Building, University Park, PA 16802. Tel: 814-863-2031; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A