Theses Doctoral

Teaching Religion as a Part of the Social Studies: Superstructures, School Structures and Teacher Subjectivities

Shekitka, John Patrick

As of 2019, the study of religions still remains a relatively unexplored branch of secondary social studies education, particularly in terms of actual classroom praxis. Like the study of race, ethnicity, or gender, religion is often considered a ‘controversial issue’ (Hess & McAvoy, 2015), and looking at religion presents a number of particular challenges for practicing teachers — even for those more advanced in their careers. In this study, I explore two questions related to the teaching of religions as a part of the secondary social studies classroom: 1) What broader forces, both in society at large and in the school setting in particular, influence teachers’ pedagogical and curricular choices around this topic? 2) How do the subjectivities and lived experiences of a teacher contribute to the way he or she teaches about religion as a part of the social studies? These two questions are interrelated. In essence, they can be summed up as follows—which curricular choices around the teaching of religion are a consequence of social forces and what curricular choices are a product of individual subjectivities? How do teachers think about the ways that their school settings and the broader cultural zeitgeist of contemporary America influence the content and methods used to teach about religions? How do they think about their own identities in relation to teaching about religion in the classroom? This qualitative study, using both interviews and classroom observations, examines secondary social studies teachers at three sites in the suburbs of a major metropolitan area in the United States.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Teaching of Social Studies
Thesis Advisors
Gaudelli, William
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 5, 2020