Responding to Resistance in Teaching about New Religious Movements
Students frequently come to classes about new religious movements disinclined to take them seriously as legitimate religions. Borrowing from literature about race and diversity in the classroom and using Peter Elbow's description of methodological doubt and methodological belief as analytical tools, this chapter discusses strategies for overcoming student resistance to taking NRMs seriously as religions. It is argued that the rigorous cultivation of methodological belief as an approach to the study of NRMs offers an effective way to dissipate some negative effects of stereotypes of NRMs and develop adequate descriptions of them. Advocating a rhetorical model of teaching, the chapter provides examples of active learning assignments and offers suggestions about course design that can make the politics of representation of NRMs a continuing topic for class discussions.
Keywords: resistance, descriptive adequacy, stereotypes, methodological doubt, methodological belief, discussions, politics of representation, rhetorical model of teaching, active learning, course design
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