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Christian Faith in English Church Schools

Research Conversations with Classroom Teachers


Trevor Cooling, Beth Green, Andrew Morris and Lynn Revell

Church schools are booming, becoming increasingly popular with parents across the world. However, research shows that teachers face considerable challenges as they try to offer a distinctively Christian education within a church school context. This book is the account of a qualitative research project investigating the joys and difficulties experienced in English church school classrooms. The research team spent a year working alongside fourteen teachers from Catholic and Church of England secondary schools, introducing them to What If Learning, a pedagogical initiative designed by an international team of educationalists to support teachers in developing Christian approaches to teaching and learning. The highs and lows of the teachers’ experience are documented in this book and the lessons that emerge are explored in detail. The findings of the project are highly significant for all those involved with church school education and point towards valuable new ways of thinking about Christian faith and learning.
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Chapter 3: The Research Methodology


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The Research Methodology

What If Learning is a pedagogical approach designed to promote a conversation about what teaching and learning is for and how it might promote a shared imagination of pedagogy that is rooted in the Christian ethos of the school. Questions are an integral part of conversation, which arise out of both shared assumptions and conflicting ones. In this research we employ questions to clarify, to probe for information and, most importantly, to discern teachers’ understanding of their own pedagogical practice. As a research team we learned through trial and error that creating a series of conversations about the design of the research enriched our understanding of how pedagogy works in the experience of teachers and students. This chapter is therefore structured around a series of conversations which significantly helped in shaping our methodology. Those conversations were with the project Steering Group, a critical friend in the research design, the teachers and students as the co-researchers in the schools, the Faculty of Education Research Ethics Committee at Canterbury Christ Church University, two critical friends in the data analysis, between the four of us in the research team and, finally, some external commentators whose contribution is discussed in Chapter 7. Conversation with these diverse partners functioned then as a mechanism to promoting reflection and for establishing rigour from the beginning of the project and was integral to the research design.

The Influence of Christian Ethos on Teaching...

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