RootEd: How Trauma Impacts Learning and Society
Contemporary education and the majority of school reform efforts have continuously moved toward maladaptations that are increasingly responsible for a number of problems facing young people and our world at large. The emerging field of epigenetics, neuroscience, and psychology may offer support for this contention and can contribute to new levels of awareness and action relating to problems and prospects in education, parenting, and overall societal change. With this assumption in mind, I propose a theoretical analysis that attempts to answer the following question: “How do epigenetic, neuroscience, and psychology theories support a call for education reforms based on brain development response to trauma and adaptations to teaching and learning for those with trauma ancestry or history?”
The method utilized is a meta-analysis including a rigorous, critical, and systematic review of the cases, theories, concepts, and methods reflected in the works cited.
Parents, Educators, School Administrators, Social Workers, Psychologists, and Therapists.
About the Author
Shella Zelenz has worked in education for 20 years. Working with students from all walks of life, cultures, races, and social diversity, her research in Educational Leadership led her to find a better way to approach learning for students with trauma histories. This included those who had ancestral trauma histories. Many were juvenile offenders, gang members, diagnosed with varying behavioral disorders, or had family histories of violence, murder, or narcissistic parenting. This research could not be effectively accomplished without further understanding of how epigenetic trauma inheritance may be impacting these students, how brain development from trauma may be impacting their behavioral and emotional development, as well as deep understanding of psychology and its varying classifications for behavioral and personality disorders. The goal is to find solutions for changing the conversation and making a real difference for these students.
MAEd and Ed.D. (ABD)
Conference Presentations and Awards
Social Innovation Award – Fielding Graduate University
Conference Presentations: Alternative Education Resource Organization
Conference: June 2010, Albany, NY. Title: Arizona’s Ethnic Studies Law (H.B. 2281): What are its implications for academic freedom and youth education in a multicultural, pluralistic America? Workshop Facilitators: Don “Four Arrows” Jacobs, Brian J. Trautman, and Shella R. Zelenz (Fielding Graduate University).
Description: Addressing Arizona House Bill 2281, an act directed at the state’s ethnic studies programs. It was signed into law on May 11, 2010. The law prohibits ethnic studies classes in all K-12 public and charter schools, but specifically targets Latino, African American and Native American ethnic/cultural and linguistic heritage. We explained the law and examine its implications for academic freedom and youth education in Arizona and across the nation, including its threats to authentic critical thinking about history and the values of identity, tolerance, equality and justice in a multicultural, pluralistic American society.
Current research in epigenetics primarily focus on diseases passed intergenerationally. There are a few studies that are researching the implications relating to psychologically traumatic events being epigenetically transferred to future generations. To date, these are entirely found in research studies. There are no public works that focus on this outside of articles in various journals or magazines that refer to the original studies. None are applied to educational implications.
Additionally, the research I have done into personality disorders and the core basis of narcissism found in nearly all personality disorders (particularly in the Cluster-B personality disorders), a passing on of trauma from those who suffer from such personality disorders to their offspring is common. This can be considered epigenetically influenced or prone, but it can also be a direct result of abuse, which is commonly found in households where a personality disordered parent resides. Pairing this with current research in brain development pertaining to traumatic childhood experiences, I have found a correlation with the development of such disorders being influenced by common narcissistic personality traits. Without considering all students exposed to overt abuse at home, it is also commonly accepted that similar treatments are socially accepted and promoted in the educational institutions and parenting advice books. To date, there are no other books discussing this topic. Most books relating to narcissism in relationships are directed toward romantic relationships and parenting relationships (child of a narcissistic parent – grown children are the only ones to benefit). There are a rare few articles that discuss narcissism in the workplace and how it impacts the entire working environment, including the health and well-being of employees.
There is an increasing acknowledgement that many who are diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) are actually children with trauma that is unaddressed. There have been research studies performed to validate the premise that ADHD sufferers are actually lacking in healthier experiences in their homes or overall life experiences. This was the first mention of it being something external influencing the child. Since that time, more and more are beginning to understand how trauma impacts behavior in the classroom and a movement devoted to mindfulness in schools as well as trauma-informed schools has begun. This is the precipice of change, which is greatly needed. This work that I present provides a deeper insight into the core issues that every adult who is involved in the life of a child can learn to better assist in healthy brain development of each child, regardless of their trauma background, and provide a larger impact on our future society as these children will not grow up to perpetuate the trauma onto future generations.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – Dangerous Society
Chapter 2 – The Problem
Chapter 3 – Narcissism
Chapter 4 – The Results of Programmed Narcissism
Chapter 5 – Trauma and Brain Development
Chapter 6 – Epigenetic Trauma Inheritance
Chapter 7 – The Purpose Behind Education
Chapter 8 – The Purpose Behind Behavioral Conditioning
Chapter 9 – Education Practices and Models
Chapter 10 – Common Parenting Practices
Chapter 11 – The Alternatives
Chapter 12 – Communication Skills
Chapter 13 – Practical Application