Fear and Education 3

According to Wikipedia, “Education is the process of facilitating learning.” Further, “Learning is the act of acquiring new, or modifying and reinforcing, existing knowledge, behaviors, skills, values, or preferences.” The process of education and learning requires some essential ingredients:

  • Memory
  • Recall
  • Choice
  • Humility

By memory, I refer to an inherent ability to store, and through recall, retrieve relevant information. This facilitates a new choice that changes the way things are. Humility refers to the act of acknowledging one’s deficit of understanding and accepting the learning involved in the education. This gives one “a clear perspective and respect for one’s place in context.” (Wikipedia)

Let’s focus on humility.

The word “humility” derives from Latin for “earth” – essentially, grounding to the earth. From that perspective, humility means to be connected to or be one with the earth. The more humility I exhibit, the more connected to the earth and more teachable I become. Fear disconnects one from the earth (ungrounded). Grounding through humility, then, might be thought of as a means to dispel fear while enhancing learning.

Some refer to humility as the opposite of pride. This usually refers to an incorrect sense of personal value or worth. In this perspective, pride is a sort of preemptive defense – a reaction to fear.

When it comes to education, humility acknowledges lack (and perhaps need, too) as an observation rather than a status or value judgment. My observation that I lack understanding about something, for example, is not the same as judging myself less than another because I don’t understand some subject as well as they do.

Humility allows me to learn from others because I’m less likely to compete with them over ideas, beliefs, behaviors, and etc. When humble, I learn because I’m grounded to what IS (“earth”) rather than attending to [often fearful] esoteric thoughts of what “should/could be.”

When Fear Stands in the Way of Education

To be humble enough to learn, I must be ready to release my stranglehold on rightness and allow others to teach me. I’ve found that this easier to say than do. I have learned to be judgmental and defensive when it comes to learning. Due to the Einstellung Effect, I prefer my previous and less-effective strategies to new and more effective strategies.

What shall I do, then?

I can PRACTICE grounding myself – especially during a time when I WANT to learn something. There are many effective techniques for grounding oneself – my favorite is the deep release breath. Sometimes firmly gripping the crown of my head and pressing down firmly will force my mind into the NOW – usually indicated by a focusing of my eyes on something earth-bound rather than an unfocused stare that often accompanies periods of ungrounded spaciness and/or fear.

Sometimes I initiate humility by simply saying to myself, “It’s okay for [the other person] to be right, too.” This often quiets my defensive ego long enough for me to at least [re]consider.

What technique works for you to ground yourself enough to be teachable?