LSU Professor to Give Keynote Address at Conference on Children’s Spirituality
BATON ROUGE – LSU College of Education Associate Professor Ann Trousdale will deliver a keynote address at the 11th International Conference on Children’s Spirituality to be held at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, in July 2012. The conference is held annually by the Association for Children’s Spirituality, or ACS, which promotes research and practice in relation to children’s spirituality internationally.
Trousdale’s invitation from the ACS stems from her wealth of knowledge and a decade of research in the area of children’s spirituality. Trousdale has presented her research at several of the organization’s conferences in the past nine years, and is honored to have been invited to make a keynote address at the upcoming conference.
“Current research on children’s spirituality has shed considerable light on the nature of children’s spirituality, as well as the negative consequences of not attending to children’s spiritual experiences,” she said. “I believe that further research needs to take the questions to the next level. The topic is of deep interest to me because I feel that it is our spirituality that is the animating principle of our lives that asks the ‘big questions’ of life: who am I, and what is my purpose in life? How am I to relate to other people and to the natural world? Is there a force beyond the material world, and if so what is its nature? To me, these are the questions that lie at the heart of true education.”
Trousdale began her research in the late 1990s after experiencing a strong spiritual pull. She initially thought she would have to leave academia to go into ministry, but a chance opportunity in publishing led to a happy blending of her academic vocation and her spiritual calling. She was introduced to ACS by a former colleague in 2003, and the organization has since come to play a major role in her research.
“LSU’s support has been absolutely essential and critical to my work,” said Trousdale. “I’ve developed a course on spirituality and religion in children’s literature, which I’ve taught several times. My research has become clearer and more focused as a result of working with my students and getting their feedback and ideas on how we might use literature to support children’s spiritual lives and religious understanding.”
She also made two conference presentations on this topic this past summer, drawing from research she conducted in a sixth-grade classroom at the LSU Laboratory School with assistant professor Jacqueline Bach, the Dean E. B. “Ted” Robert Endowed Professor in the College of Education, and assistant professor Elizabeth Willis, the Elena and Albert LeBlanc Professor and director of the LSU Writing Project. The first presentation, “Choral Reading,” took place at the National Council of Teachers of English Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning at Estes Park, Colo., in June. In August, Trousdale presented the paper, “Speaking My Thoughts to the World: Middle Schoolers Express Spirituality through the Choral Reading of Poetry,” at the 11th International Conference on Children’s Spirituality, held in Richmond, Va.
Trousdale hopes to give back to the college and her students by implementing some of her new research into a children’s literature course in the spring semester.
After years spent teaching and investigating children’s literature both inside and outside of the classroom, Trousdale has married her passion for literature and education with her strong spiritual beliefs. The result has been a rewarding and insightful path of research and scholarship that she believes is pivotal to further understanding and benefitting not only children, but the human race.
“We must learn to understand and respect one another across spiritual traditions,” she said.
For more information about the LSU College of Education Department of Educational Theory, Policy and Practice, visit www.lsu.edu/coe.