Developmental Metamorphoses: An Investigation into the Phenomenon of Epiphany

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Olvet, Thomas
Epiphanies , Vital Moments
ABSTRACT Learning through epiphanies, especially those not born out of dire crises, can be exciting, hugely satisfying, and life-validating ways to augment the significance of a lesson. In a moment of clarity, they have the ability to transform knowledge into wisdom, to provide a sense of interconnectedness within the grander scheme, and to contribute instant resolutions to persistent dilemmas seemingly irresolvable by less extraordinary means. This study involves a hermeneutic phenomenological investigation of epiphanies as they occur in lived experience. Its primary goal was to address the question, “What does it mean to have an epiphany?” Using data collected from 16 first-person, retroactive accounts of the experience, an analysis strategy using six spectra of contrasting dimensions was used to highlight the importance of the interplay between various characteristics of epiphanies. A significant finding of the study is that there is no such thing as an archetypical epiphany. Nevertheless, we can still recognize the phenomenon as a coherent entity mainly because there is agreement about many of its characteristics in the moment that it happens. Having an epiphany involves inductively rearranging patterns of deductively organized information with personally, and sometimes universally significant results. These may include dramatic shifts of perspectives, impulses that lead us to action on important matters, and occasionally whole-scale transformations of identity. Enhancing formal education settings to facilitate the experience can renew one’s passion for learning by making lessons more personally meaningful. In order to reap the benefits of the experience, we must hold space for the creative and introspective pursuits that allow them to happen. However, a challenge for facilitators of epiphanies involves learning how to direct the result of an epiphany to an intended outcome, such as a curricular goal.
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