A Passion for Anthropology in Education

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


One of the most significant formative experiences in my educational development has been the study of Anthropology. My eyes were opened in more than one sense. Firstly, I was empowered to see the world as it really is, by learning about diverse cultural practices all around the world, viewed through the eyes of the members of those societies. Secondly, my eyes were opened to seeing in ways that I had not been seeing before, through the methodological lens of participant observation. These ‘ways of seeing’ (cf. Berger, 1972), while doing, have helped me to learn about the different modes in which people live, in new and exciting ways. This disciplinary area has become my passion, and I am now seeking to share that passion with my student teachers as they pursue their journeys to qualification as teachers of Religious Education in Scotland.

Day (2004:12) highlights the role of passion in effective teaching, associating passion with ‘enthusiasm, caring, commitment, and hope’. Ruiz-Alfonso and Léon (2016) note that the most common hallmarks of passion in the literature are ‘dedication, persistence, identification and the love for the activity’. By sharing this passion with my teacher education students, I aim to model these attributes and to inspire my students to bring their passions into their practice too. This inspiration to pursue one’s educational interests is significant not just in terms of modelling passion in general, but also in sharing knowledge and techniques that will be helpful to the student teachers on their journey towards becoming a teacher, as my ongoing passion for my subject area also relates to the contributions it can make to their formation.

Ingold (2018) argues that education is attentiveness, and this attentiveness is part of what Anthropology and its key method ethnography can bring to the journey of becoming an educator. At the very entrance to the Standard for Provisional Registration as a teacher in Scotland can be found social justice, and this is clarified to include among others ‘Embracing global educational and social values of sustainability, equality, equity, and justice’, ‘Demonstrating a commitment to engaging learners in real world issues’, ‘Valuing, as well as respecting, social, ecological, cultural, religious, and racial diversity’, and ‘Demonstrating a commitment to motivating, and including all learners, understanding the influence of gender, social, cultural, racial, ethnic, religious and economic backgrounds on experiences of learning’ (GTCS, 2021: 4). The comparative and emic global awareness that Anthropology brings can play a central role in empowering student teachers to be attentive to these elements of global citizenship as issues of social justice. Then there is the impact of the ethnographic method.

My doctoral research explores how ethnographic techniques can help student teachers to learn while on early school placements and how this method supports understanding of the relationship between theory and practice. As student practitioners, they embody participation and observation both, hence the relevance of this method for the development of their attentiveness. Following my passion in what I am researching is how I keep myself inspired.


Berger, J (1972). Ways of Seeing: Based on the BBC Television Series with John Berger. London, British Broadcasting Corporation and Penguin.

Day, C. (2004). A Passion for Teaching, London and New York: RoutledgeFalmer.

GTCS [General Teaching Council for Scotland] (2021). ‘The Standard for Provisional Registration’ [online] Available at: https://www.gtcs.org.uk/wpcontent/uploads/2021/09/standard-for-provisional-registration.pdf (23/1/2023).

Ingold, T. (2018). Anthropology And/As Education, Abingdon and New York: Routledge.

Ruiz-Alfonso, Z. and Léon, J. (2016). ‘The role of passion in education: A systematic review’, Educational Research Review, 19: 173-188.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2023
EventBERA: The ECR Journey: From Inspiration to Impact - Cloth Hall Court, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 May 202324 May 2023


ConferenceBERA: The ECR Journey
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Early Career Researcher
  • Anthropology
  • Education


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