Learning is a challenging and complex business, it’s:
· An experience of identity
· Happens on the edge of not knowing
· Can be uncomfortable
Everything that has happened in your learners lives (their acquired frame of reference) right up until they come into your learning program has shaped what kind of learners they are. Whether they are open and up for the challenge. Or whether learning sends them into a spiral of insecurity and self-doubt resulting in a defensive learning style.
Defensiveness is defined as being overly sensitive to or reacting very strongly to perceived criticism. http://www.yourdictionary.com/defensiveness
Defensiveness is about self-protection – against threat, harm, embarrassment, ridicule, exposure. Protecting us from real or perceived threats is our brains’ most primal reason for being. It comes from deep within our lizard brain. The problem is that defensiveness also means it is highly unlikely that you can take in another point of view = not much learning is going to happen.
The walls of defensiveness need come down. And while the learner is the only person who can do this we, as learning facilitators, can help our defensive learners to:
· Feel safe
· Understand what this learning gig is all about
· Recognise their defensive triggers
· Improve their learning flow
· Develop their mindfulness so they can name what they are feeling and exercise ‘free won’t’ (I can feel in a particular way and choose not to pay it any attention)
What is Mindfulness?
The standard way to explain mindfulness seems to be to talk about intentional, accepting and non-judgement focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.
That’s all well and good but what does it look like?
I like the following explanation from Dr Jeffrey M. Schwartz & Josephine Thomson, MCC (‘Mindfulness, The Brain and Business’, http://www.slideshare.net/mattrule/mindfulness-the-brain-and-business)
· An activity
· A state of mind (while it eventually can become a way of being and a state of mind, it does not start out that way. You can’t just be ‘in the zone’ without effort)
· Awareness (what is happening right now)
· Focus (consciously directing your attention)
· Acceptance (you are not your brain)
Three links to find out more about Mindfulness:
You are not your brain, Dr Jeffrey M. Schwartz & Josephine Thomson MCC. http://www.slideshare.net/mattrule/the-4-steps-slides
Your Brain At work, David Rock. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/your-brain-work/200910/the-neuroscience-mindfulness
One moment meditation. http://youtu.be/F6eFFCi12v8