Knowledge exchange, intergroup relations and ‘sharing space’: a community of enquiry for the professional development of teachers of religion and worldviews
Orchard J., Williams A., Christopher K., McKeown S., Jackson-Royal R., Wright K., Wan SWY., Davids N.
We present a distinctive approach to knowledge exchange used in the ‘Shared Space’ project; an inter-disciplinary researcher–teacher partnership using Allport’s contact theory contact theory as a lens to interpret teachers’ self-reported practice in the subject Religion and Worldviews (RWE). By so doing, we created new professional knowledge and understanding of how RWE could be used as a vehicle for promoting community relations. At the project’s heart was a team of six whose collaboration across the theory-practice divide has proved unusually close and successful. Here we reflect as a team on our relationships, with each other and the project, through a ‘Collective Writing’ approach, identifying positive experiences, tensions and disagreements, and strategies used to (partially) resolve these. Issues we faced included potentially irreconcilable differences within and across disciplines related to ontology and epistemology. We identify three particular strategies we have used to address them: reciprocal hospitality and embodying Allport’s contact principles within a ‘community of enquiry’. We conclude that, despite the challenges, we have remained a strong and productive team, literally ‘sharing space’, by affording each team member equal status; collaborating towards common goals and in ways that have been supported by our respective institutions. 193/200.