How we learned not to trust ourselves

A recipe for learning not to trust ourselves:

Step 1 – Kindergarten: Play! Encourage freedom, creativity, feeling, and its expression. Explore the world through the immediacy of the body and senses. Make a mess. Hop and jump. Listen to stories. Tell them.

Step 2 – Infant school: Start to leave parts out. Sit down on the rug, or on your chair. Learn not to fidget, to pay attention, to respect others – necessary skills for life in our culture. Play, yes, but not too much now. Big school is coming.

Step 3 – Junior school: Keep still for many hours. Stop talking. The movement of bodies – an interruption. Play is only for prescribed times – not while we’re learning. It’s your job to pay attention always, regardless of how you feel, or what you care about. The adult world is coming.

Step 4 – Senior school: Learning is knowing facts or models in a way that’s increasingly detached from my first-hand experience. Do I care deeply about this subject? Does it move me? Can I connect it with my life? This, and other matters of the heart, are no longer so relevant, and rarely addressed in the classroom. The heart and the body – subjugated to the world of the analytical mind. The highest mark of educational achievement – that I learned to pass the exam, that I can produce what’s measurable.

When we follow a path that progressively leaves out parts of ourselves, it should come as no surprise that we have a hard time trusting the parts we’ve abandoned. Our hearts: how we tell what matters to us. And our bodies: the means by which we relate, create, explore, encounter, move the world. And it might explain how we’ve convinced ourselves that models, frameworks, and techniques are a substitute for a real, live, scary, exhilarating, fierce, risky and life-giving engagement with ourselves in the pursuit of the work that matters to us.

Photo Credit: nateOne via Compfight cc

1 thought on “How we learned not to trust ourselves

  1. Pingback: Learning how to learn | On living and working

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