Ethnography/Religion Explorations in Field and Classroom

James V. Spickard

in The Oxford Handbook of the Sociology of Religion

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199588961
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Religion and Theology

 Ethnography/Religion Explorations in Field and Classroom

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This article discusses teacher- or student-centred teaching in the context of American tertiary education. It starts with an account of the sea-change in ethnography during the past thirty years that began with a questioning of the quality and value of teacher-directed education, which then went on to suggest that a student-centred approach to learning was the most effectiv means of training people to reflect, analyse, and internalise knowledge. It was also seen as the most effective means of transmitting knowledge. Not all institutions of higher education favour this kind of equality approach in teaching and research, and the result is a bimodal system of learning. The situation in the churches regarding the transmission of religious faith and practice is also bimodal, some institutions favouring a top-down clergy-directed approach, while others are disposed to follow the participant-centred approach that makes a fit with the voluntarism.

Keywords: student-centred teaching; American tertiary education; teacher-centred teaching; ethnography; bimodal learning; religious faith; voluntarism

Article.  9651 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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