Teaching About Religion Within Early Childhood and Elementary Social Studies: Exploring how Preservice Teachers Perceive their Rights and Responsibilities as Educators

Rory P. Tannebaum


The purpose of this qualitative multi-case study is to explore the ways in which preservice teachers seeking either early-childhood or elementary licensure understand their roles and responsibilities in regards to the teaching of religion. Seven participants participated in the study and provided a range of data including – though not limited to – interviews, lesson plans, questionnaires, teaching philosophies, and in-class comments. Findings suggest that preservice teachers have neither the confidence to teach religion nor a strong enough foundation to understand their constitutional rights to expose students to various religions in a non-proselytizing manner. Future scholarship should present practical, meaningful programmatic suggestions for how to best help preservice teachers understand the benefits of teaching various religions and means for doing so effectively.


Religion; Teacher Education; Social Studies Education; Preservice Teachers; Elementary Education; Early Childhood Education

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