THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SAFETY AND COMFORT
Throughout these modules there have been a few references to creating “safe learning environments.” What does that actually mean and how is it related to social and emotional learning?
Learning is not supposed to be easy. In fact, its supposed to be challenging and provide opportunities to become stronger, more capable thinkers and doers. Creating challenging situations, posing difficult problems, and facilitating rigorous exercises requires a keen awareness of group dynamics and the emotions that fuel them.
Read chapter 9 of Lakey’s book, Facilitating Group Learning: Strategies for Success with Diverse Adult Learners, where he looks at how authenticity and emotions impact groups and the various ways educators can navigate and work with these powerful forces. Lakey’s experience is born from work primarily with adult learners, however, the principles and ideas in this chapter are applicable to younger learners as well.
“The habitual stifling of emotional expression is about control and domination. Those who enforce suppression tell us they are teaching us to be “appropriate.” The habit of suppression is not, however, about appropriateness; parts of our population are taught from childhood that it is never appropriate for an adult man to cry or for an adult women to express anger. It’s exactly that rigidity which makes this issue huge for classroom teachers and for workshop facilitators. Rigidly holding back emotional expression prevents authenticity. And authenticity is essential for deep learning [emphasis original].” (Lakey, 83)
Reflection Question: On page 89, Lakey writes, “to promote authentic behavior and therefore optimize learning in your class, build a strong container and support people to express their emotions. Boredom will be a relic of history.” When, if ever, have you taught or participated in a class, workshop, training, or learning experience where a strong “container” had been built? What was done, said, or facilitated to build that container? How, if at all, could those container building techniques be incorporated into your educational contexts?
- Hunter, Daniel. Step In: Step Out – Using Comfort Zones. Training for Change.