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Workshop Topic Detail

Teaching From and for the Heart


We know that when we find purpose, doing so adds energy, allows us to develop the ability to respond to challenges, and helps us find long-term fulfillment in work and life. Students continually ask us to help them on their quest to find purpose and meaning, and often we fail them by not providing real, tangible, and actionable steps. During this workshop, participants develop strategies to connect content and subject matter to transformative learning through purpose-driven teaching methods. Participants take what is theoretical and actualize those ideas into in-classroom practices. Put another way, participants add the heart to the mind and the hand. Join this workshop so you can become the wise mentor for our student-heroes. Employed theories come from Joseph Campbell, VS Ramachandran, and philosophers ranging from antiquity to the Enlightenment, as well as non-western traditions. Practices come from Jack Mezirow and Martin Seligman, among others.

By the end of this workshop, participants know or be able to:

    • Participants can discuss theories and philosophies about meaning-driven and purpose-driven life goals and help students target these goals through their educational careers.
    • Participants can identify the significance of 'heart'-based education through the understanding of personal values, assumptions and attitudes, and the highest levels of happiness (purpose).
    • Participants can incorporate happiness and fulfilment into their classrooms via tools and methods developed by experts in psychology, sociology, anthropology, and education.
    • Participants can mentor students in terms of meaning and purpose, embedded in their current curriculum and subject matters.

Plans for Audience Participation and Interaction:

Participants engage through Zoom-based interactive activities such as polling, breakout sessions, and chat. Participants also use Google Jamboard, a digital interactive whiteboard, and post-it board to answer discussion questions, create graphic organizers, and make connections between ideas. Lastly, participants use Kahoot!, a game-based learning platform, to wrap up and review material covered.


Facilitator Photo

Dr. Aaron Lawler is an assistant professor of humanities at Waubonsee Community College and has had nearly twenty years' experience as an educator. He earned his Ph.D. from Concordia University, two master's degrees: The first from North Central College and the second from Concordia University, and a bachelor's degree from North Central College. He has been an active member with NISOD, earning the NISOD Excellence Award in 2021, presenting at the NISOD Annual Virtual Conference fall 2021, earning the Suanne Davis Roueche Scholarship 2022, and hosting a featured webinar in spring 2022. Dr. Lawler serves on two elected boards: The Kaneland District 302 School Board, and the WTTW Channel 11 Community Board. He is a researcher at Chicago's Field Museum, and a lifelong member of the National Geographic Society. Dr. Lawler has published two peer-reviewed articles, a young adult novel, and is a classically trained painter. He was recently named Faculty of the Year at Waubonsee Community College, earned the Dale P. Parnell Faculty Distinction Recognition Award and the NISOD Excellence Award, and was nominated for Outstanding Full-Time Faculty Member by the Illinois Community College Trustees Association.