Fear versus Learning

The concluding paragraph to Ralph Stacey’s article/speech Learning as an activity of interdependent people is really interesting, and touches on this whole Fear Eats the Soul thing…

The immediate implication of such a view of the nature of learning is that it will inevitably give rise to anxiety. This is because the experience of challenges to, and shifts in one’s individual-collective identities are existentially threatening. It becomes important then to pay particular attention to how people respond to anxiety because defensive ways of dealing with anxiety inevitably close down learning processes. Also of great importance is that transformative learning involves moving into the unknown. People cannot know in advance what patterns of identity they are moving to and moving into the unknown in this way can easily be seen by others to be incompetence. In a social order that greatly prizes competence, understood as knowing, it is deeply shaming not to know. The social process of shame (Aram, 2001) is thus inextricably involved in learning processes and it becomes important to understand how people respond to the potential for shame.

(Aram E. (2001), The Experience of Complexity: Learning as the potential transformation of identity, unpublished thesis: University of Hertfordshire.)

See also
The must-watch TED talk by Kathryn Schulz
Terror management theory
tolerance of ambiguity, versus authoritarian personalities etc etc


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This entry was posted in a little self-knowledge, competence, fear and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Fear versus Learning

  1. Antonio Dias says:

    True Gold this!

    Art training, even the whole phenomenon of Bohemianism, can be seen as desensitizing training to get ourselves comfortable with this kind of shame.

    That it is so difficult to confront a sheet of paper or a canvas – totally inconsequential scraps of nothing – without facing this existential dread is the greatest proof of this insight’s worth!

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