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Freedom to live : the ethical responsibilities of researching a hero's journey
chapterposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 by Jennifer SimpsonJennifer Simpson
The Language and Learning course of the STEPS pre-undergraduate preparatory program at Central Queensland University sets out to initiate in often disadvantaged learners what Thomas Merton calls "the hidden wholeness" on which all life depends (cited in Palmer, 1983, p. x) through a curriculum that is underpinned by the steps of Joseph Campbell's (1949/1993) timeless Hero's Journey. Mythic structure through the steps of the Hero's Journey is the framework through which learners conduct research into their own lives and intellectual journeys. It is also the structure that gives students an understanding of the vast social changes that are ensuing as Western society, with emphasis on Australia, undergoes its own Hero's Journey. In this chapter, the voices of students are heard as they reflect on the ethical and political responsibilities of the Language and Learning curriculum and the integrity of themselves as learner-researchers. Students are also encouraged to explore the risks inherent in such research, and whether they believe that they have been empowered or more disadvantaged as a result. This research is ethical because it reflects a sense of connectedness by being involved in a parallel process. Many STEPS students have had experiences that have damaged their sense of self and often enter the program fearful and lacking in confidence. It is rewarding to be able to present students with a model that shows that challenges are part of the process of reaching their full potential through maturity. It also confirms that they are not alone on their journeys, and that this awareness can give them the confidence to gain success, not only in a challenging program, but in their university lives as well.