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143 Appendix Method and the Schools Included in the Study Our study is an exercise in applied philosophy of education that employs ethnographic , historical, and biblical scholarship to understand the teaching of courses with religious content in public schools. We aim first to understand what teachers are trying to do and why they are trying to do it. Our goal is, in part, to understand their goals, but this is not our only purpose. This investigation is an exercise in Vernunft as much as in Verstehen. We seek to understand not only what they are doing, but, more significantly, what they think they ought to be doing—­ how they believe their professional roles as teachers should be fulfilled—­ and by means of this deeper understanding to reconstruct the rationale for teaching religion courses in public schools that accords with the idea of education in a religiously pluralistic democratic society, one that goes beyond the vague goal of religious literacy. As our aim was to engage the participants in an act of rational reconstruction , it was necessary for us to contribute to a setting where they become self-­ reflective about their teaching in a normative way. Thus, against normal rules of ethnography, we wanted them to see us, at least implicitly, as bearers of pedagogical authority, and there is little doubt that our standing as university professors was on their minds. They were both pleased that we had selected them and they were concerned to communicate to us that they understood the meaning of “good teaching.” Their perception of our standing then served as a catalyst to help them reflect on what they are doing and how they might do it differently. Did they change as a result? We suspect that some did, but such was not our point. By projecting what they believe we were thinking about their teaching, our presence as pedagogical authorities assisted them in shedding the light of reflection on their own practices, while it helped us articulate a more explicit 144 / Appendix normative frame. In other words, by becoming their vicarious normative template we become their partner and they ours in the construction of criteria that should govern classroom teaching about religion. This is similar in one very restricted way to the relationship between the analyst and analysand in the sense that we serve as a template upon which teachers can project their own ideas of good teaching. Even though we take a nonjudgmental stance, teachers project on to us the norms of the educational and scholarly communities and use that projection to refine their own ideas of good teaching. We do not use this approach to trick them. We use it to see just what professional references they implicitly take to be a model of acceptable teaching. Of course, as we use their self-­ reflection, which is delivered largely as responses to questions like:“Why did you do that?” or “Why did you ask that question?” we add additional refinements of our own. By serving as a catalyst to promote self-­ reflection about their own practice, the teachers allow us to see the norms that make up the ideal and internalized contours of the teaching profession.In return,by making these norms conscious and collectively available we hope to strengthen the professional authority of teachers and to enable them to use that authority to better inform the communal authority of school boards and the administrative/legal authority of superintendents. We want to take what is often implicit and unarticulated in the self-­understanding of teachers and to help them to articulate it so that it becomes a part of their collective, professional consciousness. Unlike reporters or ethnographers, we want our presence to influence the reporting of our subjects so that they can make visible to us the contours of their professional community . Our job then is to refine this assemblage of off-­ the-­ cuff remarks, excuses, apologies, and critical reflections into generalized norms that the profession can refer to in addressing the expectations of the community and the authority of school boards and administrators. Schools and Communities Included in the Study Tearville is located in a coastal state in the South, in rural Tapscott County, which has a population of approximately 150,000 and median household income slightly more than $50,000.1 Surveys by the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA) identify more than 100 evangelical Protestant congregations Appendix / 145 and over 80 more mainline Protestant congregations. The county is also home to two...


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