Immersed in consensual torment

When passionate learning professionals get immersed in anti-learning ecologies, they end up heartless and broken hearted. The system produces so much antagonism to learning, there is no way to remain passionate about their love of learning, caring for learners or responding to challenges that arise in each situation. Everyone is feeling tormented. It's not clear who is tormenting whom. Only that it's painful to care so much or to respond with compassion. V. Yonkers framed this issue superbly in a comment on If stressors could speak.
On the one hand, I agree that there needs to be a way to de-stress the learning environment. I have students that try so hard, I am afraid they are going to have a nervous breakdown (some in fact have had chronic stomach ailments, have been near tears if they just can't get a concept). On the other hand, I have students that are downright rude and disrespectful of the instructor and what a course is trying to accomplish. Many times the content and objectives are out of the control of the instructor, yet the student seems to think the instructor can and should "change" things to accommodate that one student. As a result, an instructor must walk a fine line between being supportive enough to talk the learner "off the cliff" of stress, yet stern enough to motivate those that don't want to learn or are trying to get out of doing any kind of work.
The instructor is usually blamed for the evils of the system because s/he is an easy target, even more so when they provide evidence of really caring for the learners. The teacher who exudes any devotion to learning and learners appears more likely to understand the complaints and to make changes. The caring types take the brunt of the torment dished out by learners inside the anti-learning ecology. They are penalized for taking a heart-felt approach to their profession. They become heartless under duress.

Meanwhile the learners say they are taking the brunt of the torment. Their list may include the workload, deadlines, personalities of the instructors, problems with a particular student, hassles at home, conflicts with administrators and worries about what lies ahead after completion of the learning. Anti-learning ecologies convince everyone that they are the victim and their torment has been singled out for their personal misery. As the learners make their case, it's easy to for our hearts to go out to them and to end up broken hearted. The toll the torment takes on their lives, health, confidence and satisfaction is devastating. It's amazing they get any value of the educational experience. Feeling their pain makes for heartache.

When an anti-learning ecology is exposed, everyone can say "it's not me and it's not you". The blaming and finger-pointing become irrelevant. The problems are inherent in the nature of the system. Everyone is immersed in consensual torment until the system is abandoned or transformed. So it's the system AND it's our personal responsibility that we're experiencing the torment in that anti-learning system we're immersed in.

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