Overcoming Religious Illiteracy: A Cultural Studies Approach to the Study of Religion in Secondary Education.

Author:Stranske, Tim
Position::Book review

Overcoming Religious Illiteracy: A Cultural Studies Approach to the Study of Religion in Secondary Education. By Diane L. Moore. New York: Palgrave Division, 9.007. 226pp. $9.6.95 paper.

In her well-designed book, Moore presents her argument for religious studies in secondary schools using Gutmann's and Freire's theories to provide a conceptual foundation for her ideal, analyzing the religious illiteracy prevalent in today's schools, and describing her approach to teaching about religion. This review will summarize her argument and analyze its validity.

Adopting Gutmann's ideas Moore defines requirements for democracies to thrive using schools to prepare a country s citizens. She argues for shared educational authority among citizens, parents, and educators to support conscious social reproduction in its most inclusive form" (p. 13). Arguing for limiting repression and discrimination, she suggests curtailing yielding unrestncted "rational deliberation' and the state's authority the good life and good society" (p. 13). Coupling Gutinann's ideas with Freire's critical theory, Moore rejects the teacher centered "banking model" in favor of a student-centered "problem-posing" method (p. 17) and argues for multicultural multi-religious democracy that protects the less-privileged oppressed from the privileged oppressors.

Moore chronicles the evolution of American public schools from the early days when Protestants dominated until today when many interpret the First Amendment religious establishment clause to exclude any mention of religion in schools. Moore postulates that in order to understand, our present world involving religion-based wars on several continents and homegrown culture wars primarily focused on religious issues, U.S. secondary students must study religion with a "cultural studies approach" involving respectful investigation of a variety of religions.

Devoting five chapters to describing how to teach about religion, prepare teachers to provide religious instruction, and implement religious instruction in secondary schools Moore explains steps to implement her ideas--enrolling teachers in two classes focused on two religious traditions and two to three classes on methodology--as a way of providing comprehensive pre-service teacher training. Moore then discusses her own teaching about Islam to eleven Phillips Andover Academy students. She demonstrates state-of-the-art facilitation-of-learning using minimal lecture and expansive...

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