Finding Our Sense of Self in a Time of Crisis: Implications for Education
What makes life meaningful for a learner and a lecturer in a time of crisis? A panel discussion hosted by James Cook University in Singapore aims to answer this question.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed us.
It has left many of us feeling ungrounded and lost, and driven us to step back and rethink different aspects of our lives. What makes life meaningful in a time of crisis?
With an aim to open a critical space for students and lecturers to share their crisis for meaning, James Cook University (JCU) in Singapore hosted a panel discussion to tackle this issue, with diverse perspectives from an illustrious panel led by moderator Dr Nimrod L. Delante, Senior Learning Advisor at JCU, Singapore. The panel comprised of:
- Professor Stephen Naylor — Chair of Academic Board, James Cook University
- Mr Ian Cameron — Head of Department English Language Preparatory Program (ELPP), James Cook University, Singapore
- Dr Paolo Di Leo — Senior Lecturer, Philosophy, Singapore University of Technology and Design
- Mr Paxton Yeo — Current student at the Singapore Campus of James Cook University, pursuing the Bachelor of Psychological Science
- Mr Michael Dare — Current student at James Cook University Townsville in Australia, pursuing the Bachelor of Secondary Education, and the President of the Education Student Society
The panel touched on a number of philosophical ideas in order to explore how we discover meaning in our lives. Drawing upon the allegory of Plato’s Cave — it is disruption that often allows us to find a new reality, despite making us feel very vulnerable and unsure. The story also tells us that our pursuit of knowledge can be likened to a path towards freedom, by changing our perspectives and grasping concepts that we cannot see simply with the naked eye.
In addition, choice plays an important role in how we can give our lives meaning. According to philosopher Jean-Paul Satre, “There is no meaning or purpose of his life other than what his freedom creates.” After all, it is through our actions and what we choose to do with our lives that lends itself a sense of importance. Furthermore, one of the most important things that educators can do is to instil in students the freedom to choose, while introducing the responsibilities and consequences that come with choices.
For the students on the panel, the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly affected their studies, but also shaken up their lives. For them, the essence of what makes life meaningful in a time of crisis is underpinned by physical and social interactions as well as the authenticity of human interaction. Given the pandemic’s toll on mental health, it is crucial to be able to seek support from people around you that care. Therefore, meaning stems from sharing knowledge, perspectives and ideas with others to stimulate the mind and motivate the soul.
If this current crisis has taught us anything, it is that life is both very fragile and incredibly precious. Amid an uncertain future with untold possibilities, sometimes it is an accomplishment simply to exist and take comfort in our actions and the communities we live in.
View the full recording of the panel discussion “Finding Our Sense of Self in a Time of Crisis: Implications for Education”.
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