Dr. Margie Patrick, Religion in Canadian Classrooms
In a previous career, I served as 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 I hope to change. Beginning with this research project, I am currently working to understand more about this important area.
"Currently there is little research on the nature and scope of religion in Canadian classrooms. This is something I hope to change."
Collaborating with a research team, consisting of Dr. Carla Peck from the University of Alberta and Dr. Mike Ferber of The King's University, we will investigate how secondary social studies teachers in Alberta public schools teach about religion in their classes.
My research has involved interviews with secondary teachers across 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 thy experienced in teaching about religion such as being uncomfortable discussing religious diversity and differences, or religiously-loaded issues as sensitive topics for deeply religious students. I hope to analyze this data and put forward some useful findings regarding religious complexities in the classroom.