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Evaluating the preparation for teachers of dying and death Boyd, Dennis Eric

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the significance of preparation (by measuring changes in the fear of dying and death) for teachers interested in teaching about dying and death. The preparation was an experiential and didactic workshop (see "Definition of terms" on page 58). Subjects of this study were secondary school teachers employed with the Vancouver School Board. A group of 32 teachers (Experimental: males 6; females 26) were given a three evening experiential and didactic workshop on dying and death. This workshop took place one evening a week over a three week period. The Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale was administered at the beginning of the training and again at the end. A second group of teachers (Control: males 11; females 22) was not given the workshop. The Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale was administered twice, with a three week period between testings. There are three hypotheses in this study. The first was that an experiential/ didactic workshop would lower the death anxiety of those who participated. The second was that an experiential/didactic workshop would not lower the anxiety of the religiously committed participants to any greater extent than the death anxiety of the non-religiously committed participants. Hypothesis three dealt with sex and proposed that male participants' scores would be decreased to a greater extent than those of the female participants. The results of this investigation indicated that an experiential/ didactic workshop is a means of lowering death anxiety. The teachers who were involved had significant. score changes, on the Collett-Lester Fear of Death Scale, indicating a decrease in death fears. There was no difference in scores between the male and female participants as to lowering of death anxiety. The death anxiety scores of the religiously committed participants did not decrease more than those of the non-religiously committed. In fact, on some of the Collett-Lester sub-scales, just the opposite occurred. The results of this study point to the value of preparation for teachers interested in teaching about death. A case is made for the need of such preparation and the value of an experiential/didactic workshop is supported. Another implication of this research is the value of such training to any individual interested in becoming more comfortable with his or her mortality.

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