Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning

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

The Rough Trail to Authentic Pedagogy:
Incorporating Hospitality, Fellowship,
and Testimony into the Classroom

Carolyne Call

What does it mean to be a Christian educator? This is a question I ask myself on a regular basis. Besides teaching in a faith-based institution and referring to myself as a religious professional, what would it mean to say that I am an educator who is a Christian? Would my own faith life make any difference in how I practice my craft in a classroom? Should it? I would like to say it would, and was tempted to assume this as a given. But such an assumption turned out to be pedagogical hubris. Considering the impact of Christian practices on pedagogy pushed me to become intentional about the role of faith in the actual practice of teaching. The idea of practicing hospitality in the classroom arose for me out of Parker Palmer’s work1 and seemed to mesh well with my own previous understanding of how I approach teaching. Wanting to be more deliberate about the integration between my faith life and my pedagogical approach, I started to reflect seriously on a question posed by Ellen Marmon: “What would be different about your teaching if you thought of yourself as a host and of your students as guests?”2 This chapter explores how I answered this question.

In order to answer the question, I decided to change the format of an annual course I teach to pre-service teachers. The course is titled “Adolescent Psychology” and is a requirement for all students with a secondary education minor. There are typically from twenty to twenty-five students in the class, and majors vary widely. Students usually have had at least an introductory course in psychology or educational psychology, although this

1. Parker Palmer, The Courage to Teach (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997).

2. Ellen L. Marmon, “Teaching as Hospitality,” Asbury Theological Journal 63, no. 2 (Fall 2008): 33–39.

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