Teaching with Complicating Views: Beyond the Survey, Behind the Pro and Con



In this article I propose a method of selecting and assigning readings in the religious studies or theology classroom, such that these readings complicate one another, rather than standing in opposition or as simple alternatives. Such a strategy emulates key pedagogical insights of twelfth-century sentence collection, an activity at the very heart of the earliest universities in Europe. It also draws support from the theories of intellectual development advanced by William G. Perry, Jr. and the Women's Ways of Knowing Collaborative. Both precedents suggest a principle of “complicating views” that can be flexibly employed in a variety of ways and diverse pedagogical contexts, as illustrated by examples from several classes. Such strategies aim to avoid reinforcing intellectual patterns of dualism or undifferentiated relativism; instead, they attempt to promote students' ability to integrate discordant voices and to appreciate diverse points of view, while also staking their own claims relative to them.