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Rachel Miller Jacobs

I was especially intrigued by your comment that you shifted your focus from "specific content knowledge to the value of encounter and dialogue." What pedagogical tools/strategies did you use to make this shift? What were your ground rules, and beyond grounds rules, how did you lead discussion? I've recently been experimenting with what circle process (see www.peerspirit.com) has to offer emotionally charged conversations, and am interested in investigating other processes that can do the same kind of thing.

Song-Chong Lee

Thanks for your comment, Rachel. Once I realized that some of the students, especially non-religion majors,had hard time understanding our academic approach to the subject, Islam, I stopped the regular class schedule and used two class sessions to learn the distinction between the academic study of religion and the devotional study of religion. I made sure that the students understand that we're studying and learning "about" Islam, not "the Islam." The students also learned that their instructor was concerned more about "sharing perspectives" than "finding" and "presenting" the orthodox knowledge/understanding. They learned that sharing itself would not hinder themselves from presenting what they believe are true. It only demands patience and nurtures tolerance. So, I put more time and effort in formulating discussion questions rather than making my lecture materials. I worked hard to let everyone share his/her thought on the issues/questions that I posed. Sharing gradually became a norm in our class. As I said, I did a little. Students did a lot!

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