Friday, February 7, 2014

Some random thoughts on fear and learning.

This is how I jumped on the thought train the other day.  It was mentioned to me that some people where I work hide work sometimes instead of doing it.  The person mentioning was frustrated, because the system in place has other options if it is a learning issue, and some forgiveness if it is a time issue.  And as I thought about it, it occurred to me that part of it may be about fear.

Admitting you don't know something can be scary.  Admitting you don't know something at work, especially at a job you have been in for a long time, especially in this economy, can be terrifying.  Even if it doesn't threaten your job, you can feel embarrassed or shamed.  That is a lot to overcome to be motivated to admit you need help.

But then, how much of our ideas about learning are based on fear.  We hear "discipline" and most of think punishment.  How much of our whole learning experience, our whole life experience, has been about avoiding pain and loss if you get it wrong?  I am a big proponent of allowing children to experience natural consequences as part of the learning process, but let's be real, a lot of natural consequences suck big time.

Yeah, I feel fear.  I don't want to be homeless or hungry.  I don't want to be hurt.  I don't want to be lonely.  Fear is a natural response to the uncertainty of our world, to being small in a life that can suddenly be overwhelmingly huge in all the wrong ways.

But I still can't think that fear is the best motivation for learning, and there has to be a better way.  But it is what most of us have grown up with, how most of us have learned to function.

And my thoughts have only begun to try to wrap around "the fear of the Lord" vs. angel always starting off with "Fear not!"

I don't know.  This is not the beginning of my thinking about this, and I'm sure that it will not be the end.  I am pretty convinced that the opposite of fear is love, but I'm not sure how that can be applied to most everyday learning situations.  Still, I can't help feeling it is worth the time and effort to try to figure out.

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