Ten Things I Learned in My First Year of Full-Time Teaching

By Katharine Mershon, Whitman College   Now that I’m one week out from submitting final grades, I thought I’d do some reflecting on what I learned during my first year of full-time teaching. I teach at a small liberal arts college in eastern Washington State. The students are predominantly white and middle/upper-middle class, coming from … Continue reading Ten Things I Learned in My First Year of Full-Time Teaching

Can we criticize religion in the classroom? (Or steps toward a critical pedagogy of religion)

By Andrew Durdin, Florida State University   For those of us who teach classes in Religious Studies, there is a common, almost “mythical” figure that looms ominously large in our broader pedagogical imaginary: specifically, I refer to the outspoken fundamentalist student. This is the student you get in class from time to time whose unwavering … Continue reading Can we criticize religion in the classroom? (Or steps toward a critical pedagogy of religion)

Moderating Moderately: Helping your students by helping yourself Or Working Smart, Not (too) Hard: Reflections on Moderating Moderately

By Erik Dreff, University of North Carolina Greensboro This past fall semester I taught a Religion and Politics class online to almost 100 students at a state school in the southern US.  Though this was not my first online class, it was my first time having so many students in a single course.  Managing this … Continue reading Moderating Moderately: Helping your students by helping yourself Or Working Smart, Not (too) Hard: Reflections on Moderating Moderately

Teaching the Teachers to Teach

By Andrew Durdin, Florida State University Since joining the faculty of the FSU Department of Religion last fall, I’ve experienced several firsts. These have ranged from novelties such as having my own office and faculty library privileges to more thought provoking experiences like sitting through my first faculty meeting (an eye-opening experience for another time, … Continue reading Teaching the Teachers to Teach

Self-Disclosure and Professorial Performance

By Kristel Clayville I enjoyed and learned from Andrew Durdin’s October 2018 blog post, “Death, Taxes, and the Problem of Religious Self-Disclosure in the Classroom.” I take Andrew to be arguing, in a very nuanced way, for the necessity of establishing trust between professor and students, and I agree with him that doing so is essential … Continue reading Self-Disclosure and Professorial Performance

Probing the Pedagogy of Secondary Source Selection, or Choose Your Own Adventure (in the Gospel of John)

By Jonathan E. Soyars When I was in early elementary school, books in the Choose Your Own Adventure series published by Bantam were all the rage, at least in my rural corner of the universe. I found their invitation to participate in a narrative captivating, and I loved making choices for the protagonist that influenced … Continue reading Probing the Pedagogy of Secondary Source Selection, or Choose Your Own Adventure (in the Gospel of John)

Contra PowerPoint. Or: In Defense of the Analog Option, the Chalkboard.

By Erik Dreff I recently saw a senior academic in my field of Jewish studies (whom I respect very much) declare in a post on a social media platform that PowerPoint was the devil.  My wife, on the other hand, also an academic, in fact also in religious studies (though not Jewish studies), is keen … Continue reading Contra PowerPoint. Or: In Defense of the Analog Option, the Chalkboard.

Death, Taxes, and the Problem of Religious Self-Disclosure in the Classroom

By Andrew Durdin At the time of writing this post, I, like many Americans, have been following the high political theater of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. I’ve experienced a range of emotions as I’ve watched his initial Senate hearing; the unfolding of the subsequent allegations of sexual assault; the clumsy, bombastic, and at times … Continue reading Death, Taxes, and the Problem of Religious Self-Disclosure in the Classroom

Scaling Up

By Mandy Burton, College of Engineering at University of Illinois at Chicago I’ve always liked teaching required classes. It is a genuine preference—a happy accident of temperament rather than a boast about what a superior departmental citizen I am—but also a fortunate one for me, since most of us end up spending a lot of our … Continue reading Scaling Up

The Student’s Voice

By Allison Gray, St. Mary's University Those who attend the upcoming CoT workshop with Prof. Margaret Mitchell will get to experience firsthand her fun and effective prosopon exercise, which invites students to internalize and embody the voices of biblical interpreters throughout history. I’d like to offer some reflections and resources for a complementary invitation we … Continue reading The Student’s Voice

The Other Door

by Emanuelle (Mandy) Burton, College of Engineering at University of Illinois at Chicago In one major respect, I’ve traveled further afield than any of my colleagues on this blog, both past and present. My office at UIC is less than ten miles from Swift Hall, but it is in the computer science department. My purview … Continue reading The Other Door

Communicating about Academic Integrity: Reflections on the Value of Intellectual Production

by Kristen Tobey, John Carroll University The post you’re reading isn’t the post I intended to write. The one I intended to write, scheduled to go live just as I and perhaps many of you return from Boston and this year’s AAR/SBL Annual Meeting, was going to offer some reflections on the pedagogical lessons we … Continue reading Communicating about Academic Integrity: Reflections on the Value of Intellectual Production

How Not to Celebrate the Reformation: The Imperative of Responsible Sensitivity for Theological Education Amidst Religious Complexity and Conflict

by Andrew DeCort, the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology David Daniels's article "Honor the Reformation's African Roots" - the basis of his recent Sightings article - has gone viral as Christians around the world celebrate 500 years since Luther's 95 theses. As my first reflection on "the craft of teaching," this article can serve as a … Continue reading How Not to Celebrate the Reformation: The Imperative of Responsible Sensitivity for Theological Education Amidst Religious Complexity and Conflict

Meet the Bloggers Day 5: Andrew DeCort

Last but not least in its series of blogger introductions, the Craft of Teaching Program is excited to bring you Andrew Decort, lecturer in ethics and theology at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology and director of The Institute for Christianity and the Common Good (www.iccgood.org). Read on for his reflections! Craft of Teaching: What was your … Continue reading Meet the Bloggers Day 5: Andrew DeCort

Meet the Bloggers Day 4: Sonam Kachru

For the fourth in our "Meet the Bloggers" series, the Craft of Teaching Program is excited to introduce to you Sonam Kachru, Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. Craft of Teaching: What was your area of focus and year of graduation at the Divinity School? Sonam Kachru: Philosophy of Religions, 2015. … Continue reading Meet the Bloggers Day 4: Sonam Kachru

Meet the Bloggers Day 3: Emanuelle (Mandy) Burton

Third in our "Meet the Bloggers" series, the University of Chicago Craft of Teaching Program is excited to introduce Emanuelle Burton, who, in addition to nearly a decade spent teaching in the humanities core at the University of Chicago, has taught religious studies courses at Elmhurst college, humanities core classes at Centre College, and spent … Continue reading Meet the Bloggers Day 3: Emanuelle (Mandy) Burton

Meet the Bloggers Day 2: Kristen Tobey

Continuing our "Meet the Bloggers" series for the 2017-2018 academic school year, the Craft of Teaching Program is proud to introduce Kristen Tobey, Assistant Professor of Religion and the Social Sciences in the Theology and Religious Studies Department at John Carroll University.  She has also been an Arts and Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow and a Visiting Assistant … Continue reading Meet the Bloggers Day 2: Kristen Tobey

Meet the Bloggers Day 1: Allison Gray

Welcome back, after our summer hiatus, to the Craft of Teaching Blog! We are delighted to have another outstanding cohort of Divinity School-trained educators and scholars, ready to engage with one another on the pedagogical challenges and opportunities that animate them. We are again looking forward to learning a great deal from our alumni contributors, … Continue reading Meet the Bloggers Day 1: Allison Gray

Scholarly Labour & the Fantasy of Self-Fulfillment

by Sean Hannan The work that is currently being done on “emptiness” by the University of Chicago Divinity School’s alumnus of the year, John Corrigan, should provoke serious reflection in any student of religion. His recent chapter on the rhetoric of emptiness as applied to issues of the body raises a number of questions concerning … Continue reading Scholarly Labour & the Fantasy of Self-Fulfillment

Reading, Reflection

by Robyn Whitaker Lately I have taken to interrupting students who begin a sentence with “I feel…” and asking them to rephrase their statement on the basis of argument and evidence. While I’m not trying to convey that feelings are irrelevant, I am attempting to help highly churched seminary students learn to separate their own … Continue reading Reading, Reflection

Embodying Sacred Texts

by Jawad Anwar Qureshi In his exceptional study of West African Quran schools, The Walking Qur’an, Rudolph Ware describes Islamic learning as follows: “Islamic knowledge was being transmitted as much through bodily practices as mere words. This focus on bodily transmission of religious ideas expresses as understanding of knowledge as a thing that inheres in … Continue reading Embodying Sacred Texts

On the Fullness of Students

[Editor's note: This Spring quarter, our Craft of Teaching bloggers will be engaging with, expanding upon, and diverging from the work of John Corrigan, the Divinity School's 2017 Alum of the Year -- particularly pertaining to issues around emotion, embodiment, and the teaching of religion.] By Anne Mocko In John Corrigan’s book Emptiness, the author identifies a … Continue reading On the Fullness of Students

Beyond Expertise: Modeling Learning in an Undergraduate Classroom

By Stephanie Frank When I got my first teaching assignment in 2009--“Human Being and Citizen” in the College Core at University of Chicago--my reaction was horror. Knowing that the curriculum began with the Iliad, I agonized, “But I don’t have ancient Greek!” Now, as the only full-time faculty member in religious studies at my institution, … Continue reading Beyond Expertise: Modeling Learning in an Undergraduate Classroom

“I think Islam hates us”: Teaching Islam in an Islamophobic Era

By Jawad Qureshi As I write these words, Americans in various urban centers are descending on their airports to protest the Muslim Ban instituted by the administration a day before. There is little exaggeration in saying that our current president is the most openly hostile presidents to Muslims that we have had within my lifetime. To … Continue reading “I think Islam hates us”: Teaching Islam in an Islamophobic Era

The Travails of Trying to Go Digital

by Sean Hannan When I took up the position of Assistant Professor in the Humanities here at MacEwan University, my job description included a mandate to engage with the digital humanities. The nature of this engagement was open-ended, both delightfully and terrifyingly so. It could mean intimately interweaving cutting-edge technology into a research project. Or … Continue reading The Travails of Trying to Go Digital

Twilight of the Textbooks: Smashing Idols through Classroom Dialogue

Thinking back upon the halcyon days of my graduate study in Hyde Park, I dimly recall a formative remark made at one of our always-well-organized (and characteristically well-attended) Craft of Teaching meetings. Alright, in full disclosure: I only received my doctoral degree from the Divinity School this summer, and so I remember those pedagogical sessions … Continue reading Twilight of the Textbooks: Smashing Idols through Classroom Dialogue

Teaching in the Aftermath

Stephanie Frank, Columbia College Chicago Editor’s note: Stephanie and David Albertson (University of Southern California) have begun a facebook group for discussion about and resource-pooling for humanities teaching in the wake of the election. Please message Stephanie if you would like to be added to the group. When the election results began coming in, Tuesday … Continue reading Teaching in the Aftermath

Being Bilingual (But Speaking One Language): Thoughts on the Insider/Outsider Problem in Teaching Islam

Over the past three academic years, I have twice been called upon to teach a class titled “The Academic Study of Islam.” This is an MA level course that is meant to introduce students to the graduate program as well as provide them some of the competencies needed to carry out their studies over the … Continue reading Being Bilingual (But Speaking One Language): Thoughts on the Insider/Outsider Problem in Teaching Islam

Meet the Bloggers Day 5: Jawad Qureshi

Meet the fifth blogger we will be hearing from this year on the Craft of Teaching blog, Jawad Qureshi (Assistant Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, American Islamic College)! With our cohort introduced, their own contributions will be beginning next week. CoT: What was your area of focus and year of graduation (or expected graduation) at the Divinity School? JQ: I … Continue reading Meet the Bloggers Day 5: Jawad Qureshi

Meet the Bloggers Day 4: Robyn Whitaker

We happily introduce Robyn Whitaker (Bromby Lecturer in Biblical Studies & Online Coordinator, Trinity College Melbourne Theological School) in today's Meet the Blogger post. Stay tuned for our final introductory post in this series later this week! CoT: What was your area of focus and year of graduation (or expected graduation) at the Divinity School? RW: My PhD … Continue reading Meet the Bloggers Day 4: Robyn Whitaker

Meet the Bloggers Day 3: Stephanie Frank

Today we introduce our third educator who will be posting on the Craft of Teaching blog this year: Stephanie Frank, Lecturer in Religion and Humanities at Columbia College Chicago. Find out more about Stephanie below... CoT: What was your area of focus and year of graduation (or expected graduation) at the Divinity School? SF: History of religions, 2015 … Continue reading Meet the Bloggers Day 3: Stephanie Frank

Meet the Bloggers Day 2: Sean Hannan

Today we introduce our second blogger in the Meet the Boggers series: Sean Hannan, Assistant Professor in the Humanities at MacEwan University. Find out what he thinks about radioactive angels below... CoT: What was your area of focus and year of graduation (or expected graduation) at the Divinity School? SH: History of Christianity; graduated 2016 (Summer Convocation … Continue reading Meet the Bloggers Day 2: Sean Hannan

On Suits, Shoes, and Professionalization

Last fall I was at a workshop—at Princeton, to flash some “professional” credentials at the start. My colleague and fellow blogger Lauren Osborne was there, too—even more “professional” than me, because she had submitted a paper for the group to discuss. She and I were standing outside a room waiting for a key-note to begin, and we were talking about this gig, the blog, and the Craft of Teaching program more broadly, which we understood as an initiative in response to a long-standing lack of emphasis, on behalf of the Divinity School, to issues of “professionalization.” We said something, one of us, to the effect that this was a good thing, getting grad students to think about academia as a profession, helping folks prepare for and land jobs. But there was a very senior scholar standing in the circle with us, and he became what I would describe as borderline irate. “Professionalization,” he made clear, was, in his opinion, a useless goal, a misguided focus for time and energy, and, worse, the reflection of a nefarious and malignant misconception of what it is we do, our calling. Being a professor, he said, was about more than the kind of suit you wear.

Employment is the New Citizenship: The Liberal Arts in the Global Economy

I would like to circle this discussion of Peter Kaufman’s article back to the academic discipline of religious studies. In general terms, Kaufman encourages humanities teachers to work together with our colleagues in pre-professional programs to find ways to make sense of humanistic study as contributing to the professional development of students. This is insofar as those students will become professionals, and even leaders in their professions, for whom the challenge of responding to the unfolding exigencies of their work lives will require skills beyond those learned in their pre-professional classes. They will require, Kaufman writes, the skills we teach in the humanities.

Laboral Arts

I am pleased to follow Rick Elgendy and Lauren Osborne in contributing to the Craft of Teaching blog’s quarter-long discussion of the relationships between liberal education and professionalization in academe, with reference to Peter Kaufman’s article “Education for Professional Leadership in the Humanities: Exhortations and Demonstrations." It seems clear from reading these thoughts by my … Continue reading Laboral Arts