The Entanglement of Deep Learning — A Meta-Reflexive’s Learning Journey out of the Establishment Pedagogy of Evangelical Christianity

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Canning, Virginia
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Mount Saint Vincent University
This study is an auto-ethnography of my personal learning journey that led to the dissolution of my Biblical worldview. My story explores the power of indoctrination by examining the complexity of deep learning present in establishment pedagogy of fundamentalist Evangelical Christianity. In a polarized political climate driven by absolutist beliefs, many of which that have religious underpinnings, such as: nationalism, racism, gender and climate change, evidenced-based knowledge, reasoning and/or debate have little efficacy towards transformative learning. In this work, I look at resistance to new knowledge through the lens of the church’s establishment pedagogy and the way in which it fractures the identities of their followers. Consequently, new and contradictory knowledge not only creates cognitive dissonance, but it threatens one’s sense of self in the world. Through sharing my story, I examine how the church’s doctrine on atonement theology; specifically, the creation narrative as related to the limiting beliefs about gender, not only contributed to Othering, but also negatively impacted upon my crucial identity components and interfered with my learning. Fundamentalist Evangelical Christian teachings are historically embedded in Western culture and therefore strengthened, which reinforces identity fragmentation and Othering. This study explores two important questions: first, how are identity-bearing beliefs formed? Second, how is learning engaged through a generative pedagogy to safely unravel beliefs and support one’s sense of self in the world?