Undoing the Hurts of Learning

Some suggestions for people working on dissertations and for others with learning distress (that is, just about everyone):

  • Work on early learning memories. Start scanning pleasant ones having anything at all to do with the subject you are working on. For example, in literature it might be seeing letters, playing with crayons, being read to, learning to read, and of course all the good books you have read (that will probably take you a few sessions in itself). Then work on the distressing memories ñ how you were oppressed as a student.
  • Take pride in everything you have ever learned ñ in school or out.
  • Write in session (and discharge). It might be helpful if your counselor puts his or her hand on or rubs your back or shoulder. Set it up so that it works for you. If it bores your counselors, ask them to get a session on it later with someone else. It is your time!
  • Appreciate your intelligence. You were born with a genius-sized intelligence.
  • Use the "Reality Agreement" approach: How intelligent are you? How creative?
  • Find a good "understatement," such as, "It sometimes happens that a brilliant woman (man) realizes how intelligent she (he) is ... (and goes on to joyfully write a dissertation)."
  • Counsel on how your oppression (based on gender, race, religion, disabilities, class) affects you as a learner. Class oppression (no matter what your class background) is key. The class system depends on everyoneís learning being interfered with.
  • Get to a learning and educational change workshop ñ or at least a support group.
  • Use role reversal: "I am not/ was not a student, (counselorís name), you are, and I am going to do to you what schools do to students." All the oppressive and stupid things schools do (have done) will come up for discharge.
  • Read Classroom or Colleague for additional information.

It is often hard to find counselors with slack in this area because everyone has been hurt as a learner. However, we can take the initiative to think well about ourselves as clients. Any of the methods above will provide a reliable contradiction As we discharge on our learning distress, we will have attention for others, and they will have more attention for us, and so on. The enemy is despair and passivity.

I have found the distress experiences which interfered with our learning to be deep and heavy, perhaps more so than the hurts around love, closeness, and sex. So donít give up just because one session doesnít lead to complete recovery. On the other hand, one or two good sessions just might enable someone to finish a dissertation with ease. It probably depends on how other distress was linked to learning hurts.

Julian Weissglass
RC international Liberation Reference Person for Educational Change
Santa Barbara, California, USA
originally printed in Present Time Vol 107, p. 18

Last modified: 2015-02-04 00:35:16+00