Four Portraits of Belief and Unbelief: The Experiences of Teacher Candidates with Religious Diversity in a Teacher Education Program

By Kauper, Kate | Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue, January-December 2012 | Go to article overview

Four Portraits of Belief and Unbelief: The Experiences of Teacher Candidates with Religious Diversity in a Teacher Education Program


Kauper, Kate, Curriculum and Teaching Dialogue


"The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding."

--Albert Camus

INTRODUCTION AND RATIONALE

The National Council for the Social Studies' (NCSS) takes an unequivocal position on the study of religions: "Since the purpose of the social studies is to provide students with a knowledge of the world that has been, the world that is, and the world of the future, studying about religions should be an essential part of the social studies curriculum" (NCSS, 1998). However, a common phenomenon in U.S. schools is the reluctance on the part of teachers to discuss religion in the classroom (Anderson, 2007; Barton & James, 2010; Goodlad, 1996; Hess & Ganzler, 2007). In an attempt to reconcile the necessity to include religion in the social studies curriculum with the reluctance of teachers to do so, this study investigates how four preservice social studies teachers' beliefs about religion and religious diversity frame their understandings of difference in schools and in their future classrooms.

Shortly after the September 11 attacks, proposals intended to bring prayer into classrooms and mandate the Pledge of Allegiance ritual abounded. Correspondingly, teachers' confusion about what is and is not acceptable in regard to teaching about religion as part of their official curriculum became more pronounced (DelFattore, 2004; Hess, Stoddard, & Murto, 2008; Westheimer, 2007). The educational research community has published little on preservice teachers' encounters with religion or curricula on world religions. In particular, there is a dearth in the research on teacher candidate encounters with religious diversity that challenge or support their world views (Burant & Kirby, 2002). For example, one survey of 1054 social studies teachers in Florida found that only 66% were able to identify key distinguishing features between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism (Hussein, 2009).

Further, the act of teaching religion or teaching about religion may not be a distinction that teacher candidates feel prepared to make (Anderson, 2007; Barton & James, 2010). As Douglass (2000) describes,

Regardless of how universal basic instruction on religions has become across the states, teachers still lack the pre-service and in-service training they need to fulfill state mandates and expand instruction beyond the thumbnail sketch, and too many teachers are still very uncomfortable with the topic of religions. (p. 25)

Another compelling matter is whether or not knowledge about religion indicates a proclivity to address religious diversity or to promote intercultural understanding. A significant consideration is whether or not teacher candidates' prior experiences with religious diversity, as well as their own religious beliefs or unbeliefs, present themselves as a latent component of the curriculum. Understanding teacher candidates' support, resistance, or acquiescence to curriculum that explicitly or obliquely addresses diversity might inform teacher educators' approaches to curricula.

Teachers' religious beliefs and beliefs about religion have the potential to emerge in the curriculum whether or not teachers intend for them to do so. In Moroye's (2009) study of ecologically minded teachers, she describes a particular type of curriculum that emerges from teachers' personally held beliefs: the complementary curriculum. She writes: "The complementary curriculum is situated in the kinds of experiences teachers provide for students, as well as in the pedagogical premises and practices that result from the teachers' beliefs" (p. 791). To investigate this type of curriculum further, I explore how teacher candidates' religious belief, and their beliefs about religion emerge in their discussion of how they will approach religion in their own classrooms. The interactions of a selection of teacher candidates in their university courses, as well as their written reflections, allowed me the opportunity to see how their beliefs were manifest in their language and communication with others.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Four Portraits of Belief and Unbelief: The Experiences of Teacher Candidates with Religious Diversity in a Teacher Education Program
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.