ERIC Number: EJ853469
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Jan
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 5
Vanishing Boundaries: When Teaching "about" Religion Becomes "Spiritual Guidance" in the Classroom
Simmons, John K.
Teaching Theology & Religion, v9 n1 p37-43 Jan 2006
This article revisits the pedagogical dilemma of maintaining neutrality in the religious studies/theology classroom. I argue that if the boundary between teaching about religion and actually teaching spirituality seems to be vanishing, it is because the boundary was inappropriately constructed in the first place. To the extent that the religious concepts, even when compressed into religious studies categories, inherently inspire personal transformation, how can a boundary exist between the ideas students encounter and the power of those ideas to transform? Spiritual guidance emerges naturally in the academic study of religion, and those of us who teach in the field might as well get used to it. In explaining my position, I draw on my experience as a teaching assistant in Professor Walter Capps's course, "Religion and the Impact of the Vietnam War." I, then, develop a pragmatic teaching strategy, neutral enthusiasm, which preserves the important neutrality of classroom presentation in religious studies courses, yet recognizes the unavoidable evocative power present in the intellectual territory that is religion. Neutral enthusiasm allows the content to do the work.
Descriptors: Religion Studies, War, Religion, Foreign Countries, Guidance, Religious Education, Teaching Methods, Theological Education, Spiritual Development, Religious Factors, Higher Education, Transformative Learning
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Vietnam