Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Peak experience in educational encounters: A phenomenological-hermeneutic study
by Evans, Patrick Garland, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2016, 345; 10117910
Abstract (Summary)

This study inquires into the peak experience of educators arising within educational encounters with students. It indicates a particular trend in education away from authoritarian modes of teacher behavior toward dialogic, empathetic relationships cultivated by teachers with their students. Also indicated is the potential for teachers to transform themselves morally, thereby creating conditions necessary for students to develop moral attitudes and behavior. By developing capacities for meditation, contemplation, and self-reflection, by developing intrapersonal and interpersonal skills, teachers enter on a path of development and actualize a truly human individuality. When self-actualization becomes a modus operando, peak experiences may give self-reflecting teachers knowledge of their own development.

A mixed-methods approach to the project was used that employed a questionnaire to: (a) establish the demographics of the sample; and (b) survey the types of peak experience that occurred within teachers resulting from educational encounters with children. The questionnaire also requested that the participant give a narrative of a peak experience. From the pool of 46 respondents, seven were chosen for interviews that ultimately clarified and enabled a deeper understanding of the narratives. The interview data and narratives were analyzed using a 3 step process proposed by Ricoeur (1986) and employed by Lindseth and Norberg (2004). The data revealed that teachers working with Steiner pedagogy have a multitude of peak experiences. These teachers use contemplative practice and self-reflection to cultivate intrinsic qualities of empathy, love, and dialogic competence. The findings also affirm that the kinds of peak experience reported by James (1901/2008), Bucke (1905/2006), Maslow (1970), and Csikszentmihalyi (1990) are definitely and extensively in evidence in the sample surveyed. Particular aspects of experience reported also included: dreaming as a mode of cognition, the prescient nature of some experiences, the prevalence of self-reflective and contemplative practices as precursors to peak and transpersonal experiences, the importance of the encounter as a condition for the emergence of such experiences within teachers.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Combs, Alan
Commitee: Deslauriers, Daniel, Yoslow, Mark
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Transformative Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 77/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational psychology, Teacher education, Psychology
Keywords: Contemplative practise, Dialogic encounters, Educational encounter, Moral teaching, Peak experience, Self-actualization
Publication Number: 10117910
ISBN: 978-1-339-79281-1
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