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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

Thinking about Doing: On Learning from Experience and the Flight from Thinking

This paper explores the relationship between learning, thinking, and doing. A case study of a course in group dynamics is presented, and the desire of students in that course to learn about groups simply by being in a group is considered. The paper argues that the desire to learn simply by having an experience expresses a conservative impulse. If all we have is an experience, all we can learn is the inevitability of repeating it. This makes learning from experience the enemy of creativity since its purpose is not to discover what might be, but to assure the reproduction of what is. Learning from experience in this sense means failing to learn from experience. Failure to learn from experience is linked to fear of thinking. When the group is imagined to be a refuge from thinking, appeal to learning by doing expresses the need to replace learning with belonging.