Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Trigger Moments

My good friend, Wendy Sanders, early childhood college professor and doctoral candidate at at Fuller Seminary recently posted the following on her new blog, Walking With Children:

What we know from brain and psychology research, problem-solving is creative, memory is longer lasting and compassion is triggered by emotion and thought working together, not thought over emotion or emotion instead of thought. Damasio and Immordino Yang call it, "emotional thought."

Mimi Michaelson did her doctoral research on adolescent moral exemplars who have developed far-reaching activities, such as what Ryan Hreljac did in building wells in Africa. She found each of the youth she interviewed had experienced a "trigger" incident--something that caught their attention. In my research on the processes of compassion within children, ages 6-11, I found that an emotional reaction triggered their recognition of the needs of others. In a way, re-writing my dissertation and re-thinking Michaelson's work was a trigger incident for me just this morning.

When we teach, what is our "trigger incident" for the students? Do we bring in a desert tortoise, do we sit around a campfire together, do we listen with all of our heart and mind?

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