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The limited value of attempting to pour knowledge into the heads of young people without relating it to their experience was held not only by Dewey. This view was forcibly repeated some decades later by Freire (1982: 45–6) in his book The Pedagogy of the Oppressed where he advocated less state intervention in the learning process of children and argued: Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiqués and makes deposits, which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat.

Hostile or impoverished environments. Lack of time. External pressures and demands. Lack of support from others. Lack of skills: in noticing, intervening. Intent that is unclear or unfocused. Established patterns of thought and behaviour. Inability to conceive of the possibility of learning from experience: ‘this is not learning’, ‘this is not possible’. Obstructive feelings: lack of confidence or self-esteem, fear of failure or the response of others, unexpressed grief about lost opportunities.

It is the case that many painful experiences remain with us for the rest of our lives and become reference points that we take into account before acting again in a similar manner. Indeed, these painful experiences may act as blocks to learning through preventing us from acting in a particular way. ) Discharge anger or hurt in a private place. Reduce the load and avoid dwelling on one’s inadequacy. Come to terms with there being no easy resolution. Discharge frustration in a private place. Avoid self-blame and resist taking impulsive revenge.

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