Guest post by Travis Snyder. Travis Snyder is a second-year M.A. student in the history program. His interests are American Military History with a specialization in Psychological Effects of Warfare.
Every life experience a person goes through leaves a mark on him or her whether it is good or bad. For some the mark is physical and others it may be of the invisible mental sort. When it comes to more intense negative experiences the world around a person could “trigger” powerful negative memories of the experience to resurface and cause an intense psychological or physiological response. These memories are something that the person who has these negative “triggers” tries to avoid at all costs as it is extremely uncomfortable for the person to have to re-experience their negative trauma. There are many possible “triggers” that come up in the material of nearly all the history courses.
On Wednesday October 28, 2015 the faculty and graduate students of the BGSU History department met in a teaching forum to discuss real-world experiences, both teaching and personal, concerning the handling of sensible contents and whether “trigger warnings” help students in their process of learning. The most prominent issue was that of how to deal with students who come forward with the issue of having “triggers” that would most likely come up during the course.
Through examples of different experiences, participants had varying opinions on the type of accommodations and adjustments, but all agreed on a few bottom line principles. The first was that for every occasion that a student comes to an instructor informing the instructor of possible triggers that could occur needed to be dealt with a case by case basis. Second, the responsibilities of instructor or teacher goes beyond the course material, and that the human side of academia should not be something that is shunned but rather played upon when a “trigger” is brought up in class. The third principle is the awareness of opportunistic behavior to take advantage of the notion of “trigger warnings” to get out of assignments or class.
To conclude, I thought that the discussion beneficial to all in attendance and an excellent example of how the History Department here at Bowling Green State University cares for their students and constantly strives to better serve the students in the classes.
Alternative: To conclude, I felt the discussion was beneficial to all in attendance and the start of a discussion that needs to be had in departments across the country. As attendants left the conference room I believe they left with a better grasp on their thoughts of trigger warnings.