Dr. Samuel Joeckel, a faculty member in Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Supper Honors Program, opened his keynote address at the University’s third annual Interdisciplinary Research Conference on Wednesday by painting a mental picture based on an actual event.
|Dr. Samuel Joeckel, a faculty member in Palm Beach Atlantic University’s Supper Honors Program, delivers the keynote address at the University’s 2014 Interdisciplinary Research Conference on Wednesday in the Lassiter Rotunda of the Warren Library.|
He recalled an incident in which a student came to his office, clearly distraught about something that had been discussed earlier in class. The student told him that the classroom discussion of the novel “Don Quixote” assumed “a vantage point that she could not accept — or, to be more precise, that she was taught by her parents not to accept,” he said. Then she began to cry, he said.
Upon further discussion, it became apparent that the student was experiencing “educational trauma,” or a sense of disorientation that many students experience “when faced with what theorists have called the ‘situated-ness’ of their perspectives,” Dr. Joeckel said.
“Our perspectives are inextricably shaped by our historical contexts, among many other powerful contexts,” he said. “The awareness of this reality tends to disorient young people who are struggling to retain their simplistic, black-and-white view of the world and are slowly being introduced to the complexities of human consciousness.”
Dr. Joeckel asked the students, faculty, staff and guests gathered in the Lassiter Rotunda of the Warren Library to imagine that his educational trauma illustration were an actual painting hanging on the walls of a museum gallery. He speculated on what various scholars, including Thomas a Kempis, Martin Luther, John Milton, Immanuel Kant and many others might say upon viewing the painting.
Perhaps educational trauma is a positive thing, Dr. Joeckel said during his address, which served as the kickoff for the two-day conference.
“In fact, I would say that if you don't (experience educational trauma), you're probably not getting your money's worth,” he said to the students in attendance. “Like Kant, I believe it is the hallmark of intellectual growth.”
He said that educational trauma is inevitable “if you take your education seriously —that is, if you engage ideas with integrity,” he said.
In contrast, educational trauma can be disrupted by “inoculation analysis,” or “when you learn just enough about a subject in order to dismiss it,” he said.
He said that both educational trauma and inoculation analysis can happen in various types of classroom situations.
Dr. Joeckel noted that he and a colleague, Dr. Thomas Chesnes, surveyed thousands of faculty members and students at Christian colleges and universities and found that many students complained that they felt they were living in a “bubble.”
“Students cannot become ‘complacent’ or ‘lazy’ in their faith if they are experiencing educational trauma,” Dr. Joeckel said. “They will be challenged like they have never been challenged before.”
The conference, which includes student and faculty poster presentations and oral presentations on two academic tracks, continues Thursday at 1 p.m. in the Warren Library. The Science and Health Care Track takes place in the Hanley Classroom, and the Liberal Arts and the Social Sciences Track takes place in the Center for Teaching Excellence Room 208.
The University’s Office of Institutional Research and Effectiveness and the Office of Career Development are the conference sponsors.
A copy of Enlightening Minds: Research Review 2013 is available online.