Dr. Valerie Blackwell is a professor in the School of Education at UMKC. She teaches courses such as Principles of Testing, Child Development, Educational Psychology, and Adolescent Development. Before discovering her love of teaching, Dr. Blackwell received a degree in business and spent 15 years working in this field. Eventually, she found her way into the teaching profession where she continues to work to this day.
Much of her presentation centered on the subjective idea of happiness. One issue that Dr. Blackwell mentioned was that many people tend to set several goals and expect to find happiness once these goals are met. Then there are other cases where people are not able to determine what makes them happy. She then asked the Honors Colloquium group this very question. Some people responded with family and friends, others with hobbies they enjoyed such as crafting or eating. Dr. Blackwell then explained how happiness is not one specific goal or activity, but is constantly changing. What makes us happy at the age of twenty will not necessarily be pleasing to us when we are sixty.
To clarify this, she gave us examples from her own life. When she was younger, she immediately decided to go into business in order to provide for her family. While this may not have been her passion, her family’s happiness is what she found made her happy most at this point. As her children grew older and thus more independent, Dr. Blackwell was then able to focus on her own contentment. After 15 years in the business profession, she found her love of teaching. This made her happy then and continues to be an important part of her life now. Another important part of her happiness now is her grandson. So you can see throughout different periods of life Dr. Blackwell’s sources of happiness changed, as will be the case for many of us.