The Taught Curriculum and the Learned Curriculum

The distinction between the taught and the learned curriculum – something I was first introduced to at the Klingenstein Summer Institute – has been one of the more valuable ones for reflecting on my own pedagogy and teaching. In brief, this idea points to the difference between the taught curriculum – the words, ideas, themes, images, etc. that come out of the educator’s mouth – and the learned curriculum – the words, ideas, themes, images etc. that make it into the students’ minds and memories. Each time I reflect on this distinction, I find myself newly humble in the face of the challenging endeavor of teaching and learning.  Continue reading

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Dharma: An Introduction

“Dharma is subtle.”

This quotation recurs throughout the Mahabharata, one of the two great epics in Hinduism. (The Ramayana is the other.) Dharma is a Sanskrit word that is often translated as duty or responsibility. It is probably the central ethical idea in Hinduism. It’s also rather complex.

The word dharma is often translated as “duty,” and this definition is a pretty good start. However, there’s more nuance to the term: dharma refers to duties/responsibilities that a person has to uphold the functioning of the communities in which they are enmeshed. Dharma is action that upholds the world. As such, it is linked quite closely to a person’s identity: in my case, I have specific dharmas as a son, a partner, a teacher, a colleague, a tenant, and so on. Performing my dharma, then, is a matter of acting in a way that preserves and upholds the social orders I am a part of: my family, my classroom, my workplace, my home – my communities. Continue reading

What is the Study of Religion?

Or: the difference between Sunday School and Monday-Friday School

One of the biggest challenges religious studies teachers can face is misunderstanding. This misunderstanding has two distinct, but related, forms: the first is a general misunderstanding about religion in general. The second is misunderstanding about the study of religion/religious studies as an academic discipline. This post will be an effort to clarify the latter. Ideally, this entire blog is part of a larger effort to clarify the former! Continue reading