Friday, April 27, 2007

Teaching Ideas

One of my greatest hopes for this site would be as a place to share ideas about how to teach courses that have a religious literacy component.

Although none of my online courses is a religious studies course per se, they all contain important religious literacy components:

Epics of Ancient India: This is a fully online course at the University of Oklahoma, which covers the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Although the course is taught from a literary perspective, there is necessarily a great deal of information about the religions of ancient India which is covered in class.

Mythology and Folklore: This course contains a few units with a religious focus, notably: the epic of Gilgamesh, stories of ancient Egypt, stories from the Hebrew Bible, and Sufi tales from Rumi.

World Literature: Again, this course contains several units with a religious focus, such as a unit on the Buddhist jataka tales, New Testament parables, Attar's tales of the Sufi saints, selections from the Hitopadesha, ancient visions of the underworld and afterlife, along with a unit on Dante's Inferno.

I hope very much to develop a Biblical Literature course using the same basic online course model that I use in these courses. I'll explain in more specific posts later on just how I have organized these online courses but the main principle I have adopted is a creative writing approach, where students "retell" old stories in new ways, and share those stories with one another via websites and blogs. So, by way of example, you could take a look at the student projects for the Epics of India course, all of which are available online.

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