Sunday, August 23, 2009

Curiosity and Managing the Anxiety of a Learner

During individual supervision at my 2nd year field placement, the Healthy Start Program at Bahia Vista Elementary, when my field instructor said she was surprised that I didn’t conduct developmental assessments with my clients, why didn’t I ask, “what’s a developmental assessment?”

When I asked interns on their first day of field, “what are your fears, concerns, questions?” T----, brave and poetic, responded, “I am afraid that I will ask you a question and you will say, ‘you should know that already.' ”

How did our natural curiosity get squashed along the way? The revolutionary in me (re-awakened after watching Che, the movie, Part 1 and 2 - really good by the way) wants to fight to reclaim our birthright to curiosity. That is, asking questions, challenging the status quo and not knowing without shame or embarrassment.

I am afraid that all of those years of talking to interns about the learning curve, about how normal it is to be scared and uncomfortable when learning something new, about how Reevah always said it takes a lot of ego strength to be a learner and to acknowledge our dependency, and about how we all feel more in control and confident when we reach mastery, but that it takes hundreds of trial and error experiences to get there. I am afraid that all those words will come back to bite me. That they will not be sufficient reassurance. That I will need to find other ways to self-soothe - to manage my beginner's anxiety. And that being stoic or ignoring these feelings when they come up will not be acceptable to my body. So as I prepare for this big (overwhelming) new experience, I am open to learning how to attend to all the feelings that come up - and like a good parent to a wailing baby - find ways to respond, accept, comfort and soothe.

4 comments:

  1. Alex, you have been the most amazing teacher I have ever had and probably ever will. You taught me to listen to my inner voice and to overcome all of my fears and doubts. To this day, whenever I am in doubt, I still ask myself, "What would Alex say/do?" Thank you for giving me the confidence and the courage to believe in myself.

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  2. I am reminded of a time in my life not that long ago when everything in my mind and body was trying to reject what was being taught to me because it was foreign, and you said to me "When you have been in a certain role practicing a certain way for such a long time you forget that your mind is able to bend and reshape it self, allow yourself to be reshaped still own all your own thoughts and qualities that make you you, but allow yourself to bend and reshape into this new role." Those words have been very helpful to this day.

    Nora Tapia

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  3. This is huge! There is so much precious information, Alejandra. For me, being a learner is a gift- a right, a priviledge... The dynamics of learner and teacher is what is hard for me. Finding a confident teacher who can nurture and accompany in the journey of learning is rare. Also, the time- the lost time, age, the fundamentals of the fundamentals I've had to learn as an adult, the impatience to be skilled, learned... This is hard too. What I do is keep studying/learning to be satisfied. Sometimes this is a lonely journey. Thanks for this forum.

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  4. Thanks for all these words and support - they comfort and soothe - happy baby!

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