Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning

By David I. Smith; James K. A. Smith | Go to book overview

Foreword

If you want to see great teaching in action, read this book. If you believe that college classes can be communities of learning where knowledge of self, others, and the world is sought in response to God’s call and the world’s need, read this book. If you yearn for pedagogical wisdom capable of sustaining resistance to consumerist and instrumentalist pressures on teaching and learning, read this book.

Here, ten college teachers tell what happened when they rethought and re-enacted specific courses in ways that incorporate Christian practices. After accepting the invitation of colleagues David Smith and James Smith to discuss recent philosophical, sociological, and theological literature on social practices, each of these teachers reshaped a course in light of this literature’s claim that human beings become who we are in large part through embodied participation in shared activities sustained by traditioned communities and oriented toward specific goods. One outcome was a batch of new courses that turned out to be remarkably engaging for students and teachers alike. Another outcome is this excellent book, one of the best we have ever read on the subject of pedagogy. It is also one of the best we know on the subject of Christian practices.

Teaching and Christian Practices both makes a case for a certain approach to pedagogy and offers multiple illuminating examples of this approach. The editors’ brilliant introductory chapter, which analyzes recent work on practices and lifts up its implications for Christian higher education, lays the conceptual groundwork for practice-shaped experiments in teaching and learning. (This chapter clarifies themes in Alasdair MacIntyre and Etienne Wenger, as well as in our own work, that will also be helpful to practitioners in other fields.) Building on this foundation, most of

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