Loss and Death in Educational Context: Constructing an Area of Debate with Teachers

 

Kiman R.J.1, Fernández D.1, Grance G.1, De Simone G.G.1, D´Urbano E.1

(1)Pallium Latinoamerica Asociacion Civil Buenos Aires, Argentina

Schools role as a “building culture organization” should involve many life events, including lifelimiting disease and death (LLD&D): students facing illness or loss present different reactions, and teachers should address situations when those events occur in a child´s life or his/her familiar world.

Objectives:

1) To promote learning on LLD&D at the educational community (teachers, parents, children); 2) To reflect about life circle including death; 3) To promote teachers´ competences to deal with LLD&D, students reactions and impact on school performance.

Material and methods: During 2009, we held a Focus Group to define an operational plan for training educators in order to: select professionals to work in the field (pediatrician, psychologist and nurse), identify key schools to carry out a pilot test, design formats (workshop, lectures, problem-based learning). After this pilot phase, a definitive programme is being built and discussed with the Ministry of Education in Buenos Aires.

Results: The pilot project was developed in 2 out of 7 institutions, reasons for rejection: refusal to address the issue with children, other priorities, fear of parents´ opinion. One experience was performed at a Special School where children suffered from disability-chronic diseases: 70 participants attended, teachers declared that they didn´t have training on these issues, they used to act instinctively and reported stress in daily work. Answers were not influenced by age or years of experience but by workplace: hospital school, home or school headquarters. Other experience took place in a Teacher Training Institute, involving 60 students. They referred uncertainty, anxiety, opposition but  also great interest. Age (range 18 to 25y) probably influenced their positions, as most of them had none personal experience in relation to death and dying.

Conclusions: We find it is mandatory to achieve better understanding on educational practices in relation to death and dying.

 

Pallium Latinoamérica. Ciencia, alivio y esperanza en el final de la vida.