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Christian Faith in English Church Schools

Research Conversations with Classroom Teachers

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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 9: Pedagogical Issues for School Leaders and Teacher Educators

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CHAPTER 9

Pedagogical Issues for School Leaders and Teacher Educators

In this book, we have described our grappling with what exactly we hoped to know as a result of this research and our resulting shift from a positivist-leaning approach to a more open-ended, interpretive approach based on a critical realist paradigm. In the end what we actually did was to explore, through conversation, how fourteen teachers working in three church secondary schools in England experienced What If Learning in a situation where they were given some, but not a lot of, support. This book is our description and interpretation of that experience. Our overall observation is that What If Learning can inspire teachers to reshape, sometimes radically, their teaching in ways that begin to meet the aspiration of both the Church of England and the Catholic Church that Christian ethos should permeate learning in the classroom. However we have also concluded that this is a complex enterprise where teachers are juggling educational, ethical, pedagogical and theological questions and have to manage a demanding interplay between theory and practice. Not surprisingly, they often found that challenging. We do not claim that our observation of fourteen teachers validates our making generalizations applicable to all teachers in church secondary schools. However we do suggest that it may indicate issues that those responsible for school leadership and teacher education might wish to consider addressing if they aspire to achieve successful permeation of Christian ethos through teaching...

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