Invitation to Spring Reading Group

January 20, 2012
Book Cover Teaching and Christian Practices

The Institute for Faith and Learning is pleased to host a reading group this spring semester. We have selected an edited volume by David I. Smith and James K. A. Smith entitled Teaching and Christian Practices: Reshaping Faith and Learning (Eerdmans, 2011). This collection of essays considers how the incorporation of Christian practices into our classrooms gives significant shape to the task of Christian scholarship with our students.

Much reflection on the nature of Christian scholarship has rightly considered the integration of faith and learning and how a Christian perspective might shape higher education. However, as David Smith notes in the volume's introductory essay: "a funny thing happened on the way to the Christian university: the central task of teaching almost completely dropped off the scholarly radar" (2).

This collection of essays offers reflections from scholars from a variety of disciplines (from nutrition sciences and history to econometrics and chemistry) on the successes and challenges of shaping their pedagogy around Christian practices. The essays serve not as prescriptions for how one should teach, but as invitations to think rigorously and creatively about the ways that Christian practices might serve to inform our own practices of teaching.

The reading group will meet on Wednesday afternoons at 3:00 p.m. in the Green Room of the McMullen Faculty Center. Copies of Teaching and Christian Practices will be provided free of charge to participants, but space is limited and available on a first-come basis.

This is our tentative schedule of readings:

  • February 8—"Introduction: Practices, Faith, and Pedagogy" and "Reading Practices and Christian Pedagogy: Enacting Charity with Texts"

  • February 15—"The Rough Trail to Authentic Pedagogy: Incorporating Hospitality, Fellowship, and Testimony in the Classroom," "From Curiosity to Studiousness: Catechizing the Appetite for Learning," and "Keeping Time in the Social Sciences: An Experiment with Fixed-Hour Prayer and the Liturgical Calendar"

  • February 22—"Eat This Class: Breaking Bread in the Undergraduate Classroom," "From Tourists to Pilgrims: Christian Practices and the First-Year Experience," and "How Christian Practices Help to Engage Students Morally and Spiritually: Testimony from a Western Civilization Course"

  • February 29—"Pedagogical Rhythms: Practices and Reflections on Practice," "Thrill Rides and Labyrinths: The Pedagogical Logic of Freedom and Constraint," and "Christian Practices and Technical Courses: Making Integral Connections"

  • March 7 (Morrison 205)—"Recruiting Students' Imaginations: Prospects and Pitfalls of Practices"

Our intention is to be able to work through each of these essays, but with busy schedules we understand that not everyone will get through every essay each week. Even if you are only able to read one of the essays for the week, please feel free to come and join the discussion.

If you are interested, please contact the IFL's administrative associate, Vickie Schulz, by email ( or telephone (710-4805) so that we may plan for your participation.

Learn more about the book at the publisher's Web site,
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