In a previous career King's education professor Margie Patrick was a high school social studies teacher; a subject in which, among other things, students study how and why people and societies live as they do, how the past, present and future interact, and how power is managed.
Religion is central to each of these elements as religious beliefs and practices animate many individual and collective lives, not to mention peoples' views of power, the purpose and role of government, environmental sustainability, etc.
Currently there is little research on the nature and scope of religion in Canadian classrooms. This is something Patrick hopes to change. One of the research projects she is currently working on seeks to understand more about this important area.
Collaborating with a research team, consisting of Dr. Carla Peck from the University of Alberta and Dr. Mike Ferber of The King's University, Patrick investigates how secondary social studies teachers in Alberta public schools teach about religion in their classes.
Phase one involved interviews with secondary teachers in Alberta. Many of the teachers believed it was important to teach religion in some capacity so that students could better understand the world they live in. They also mentioned the difficulties in teaching about religion, such as being uncomfortable discussing religious diversity and differences or religiously-loaded issues as sensitive topics for deeply religious students. This data is being analyzed.
In the second phase, the team will observe some of these teachers in their classrooms.
- 2017: Listening to teachers: Religion and the social studies classroom. The King’s faculty. September.
- 2017: You mean I have to teach that too? Proposed teacher PD re religion in SS. Canadian Society for the Study of Education. Toronto: May 28.
- 2017: Teaching about religion in Alberta public schools. Canadian Society for the Study of Religion. Toronto: May 28.
- 2017: Developing teacher PD re religion in social studies. Teacher Education Advisory Committee, The King’s University, May.
Patrick, M., Gulayets, V., Peck, C. L. (Accepted). Embracing religious complexity: A call for teacher professional development regarding religion in social studies. Canadian Journal of Education.