Exploring teacher agency to address controversial issues in religious education: A forum theatre and action research approach
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionScandinavian Journal of Educational Research. 2022, 1-15. 10.1080/00313831.2022.2130976
Dealing with controversy is highlighted in policy documents as a cornerstone of democracy and education. However, previous research points to several challenges for teachers when dealing with controversial issues (CI) in class. In this article, we apply an ecological conceptualisation of teacher agency and explore the ways in which forum theatre (FT) and action research (AR) can provide conditions for developing religious education (RE) teachers’ agency to address CI. Our main findings indicate a shift in teachers’ orientations from short-term goals of exercising power and control to avoid causing conflict in class towards a process orientation in which an ‘avoidance strategy’ transformed gradually into some combination of a ‘deliberation and embodiment strategy’ and a ‘trust and power-sharing strategy’. We conclude with a reflection on whether this new approach to addressing CI has the potential to become substantiable and hence contribute to the educational goal of promoting democratic education.