Edited By Stephen Parker, Rob Freathy and Leslie J. Francis
PART III Empirical Perspectives
René Ferguson 11 Communities of Practice: Encountering the Unexpected in Narratives of Religious Diversity Abstract The contents of this chapter form part of a wider study in which I investi- gated how participation by teachers in a learning community, a community of practice, would contribute toward improving their professional knowl- edge base for Religion Education as a focus area of Citizenship Education. The chapter tells a story of how qualitative research may produce the unex- pected. Forty-five kilometres west of Johannesburg, South Africa, a small mining town lies tucked away. The Group Areas Act in which people of dif ferent ‘races’ were forced to live separately during the apartheid era is still in evidence, seventeen years after liberation. Four people, a researcher and three secondary school teachers who live, or lived, in these former segregated areas, encountered one another in this out-of-the-way town, in a participatory action research project designed to investigate options for teacher-learning about religion, religious diversity and democratic citizenship education. What was the nature of the unexpected? Various narratives arose out of dialogue with these teachers and subsequent ref lec- tions on their personal histories and experiences of religion and belief, and how these contribute toward understanding regional dif ferences in religious expression, tradition and belief, experiences which are largely undocumented. The narratives presented within this chapter explore how situated knowledge unearthed by participants through engagement in a community of practice provide examples of experiences and interpreta- tions of religion and religious diversity which are valuable resources...
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