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Book: Thinking with J. Z. Smith

Chapter: 14. Principles of Pedagogy: Thinking with Smith to Re-vision our Systems of Training

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.39931


Whether or not J. Z. Smith himself was in fact an excellent or even a good instructor, it is crucial, argues Andie Alexander, that we do not fail to acknowledge his profound contribution to pedagogy in the undergraduate classroom, considering specifically the introductory course. In her chapter, Alexander mines Smith’s writings and talks on pedagogy, scattered throughout his oeuvre, to ascertain his methods for approaching the classroom and then asks, using several current, popular introductory texts as case studies, whether Smith’s work has had an impact on pedagogy in the study of religion, if any, and how we might apply Smith’s principles to introductory classes today. After working through several such examples, Alexander then tackles the larger task of applying Smith’s pedagogical principles to both the role of the humanities (as well as the so-called crisis of) in higher education, particularly with regard to the emphasis on individualism, to begin exploring the effectiveness and limitations of this understanding according to Smith’s principles.

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