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Going Inward

The Role of Cultural Introspection in College Teaching

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Edited By Susan Diana Longerbeam and Alicia Fedelina Chávez

Going Inward is a pragmatic text for faculty in all disciplines who desire to deepen their reflection on teaching. Through the culturally introspective writings of faculty in a variety of academic disciplines, readers will gain a deeper understanding of faculty cultural influences on college teaching and student learning. This book introduces readers to cultural self-reflection as a powerful tool for insight into how our values and beliefs from our cultural and familial upbringing influence our teaching practice. Cultural self-reflection is a process for generating insights and empathy toward serving students from backgrounds and cultures both similar to and different from one’s own. The integrated design of the book’s three parts – cultural introspection, faculty culture and teaching autobiographies, and developing a culturally introspective practice – makes this book helpful to teaching faculty and academic administrators.
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Chapter Twenty-One: Running from Religion: Finding My Reconstructionist Academic Culture

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CHAPTER TWENTY - ONE

Running From Religion

Finding My Reconstructionist Academic Culture

ROBERT NEUSTADT

Global Languages and Cultures Northern Arizona University



I have spent most of my life running away from my religion. As a child, in Louisville, Kentucky, I felt annoyed when my father would pronounce with pride that some brilliant actor, author, or artist was Jewish, as if our religion had something to do with their accomplishments. The concept of a “chosen people” always struck me as arrogant and exclusionary. I never felt connected with Jewish religious services. As a boy, I would pass what felt like an eternity counting the big round lightbulbs that hung from the high ceiling in Temple Adath Israel. It was boring. I never felt comfortable praying to God. If God had the power to intercede on our behalf, the atrocities of the Conquest, the genocide of American Indians, the Holocaust, terrible accidents, diseases, and the famines that afflict people would not occur. If God were all-powerful, there would be no losers in football games. The nail in my coffin of religiosity came the day that Rabbi Waller repeated ad nauseum the importance of a new building, beseeching in his amplified tenor voice that congregation members dig deep and donate to raise the money to build “a new, a new, a new building” for a Temple in the suburbs. They sold the old downtown Temple—a neo-classical building...

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