Vulnerability for teachers, students, teaching, learning

Worth reading

A pedagogy of vulnerability thus starts from a place of mutual openness rather than an attitude of defensiveness. As bell hooks argues, “a holistic model of learning will also be a place where teachers grow, and are empowered by the process. That empowerment cannot happen if we refuse to be vulnerable while encouraging students to take risks… In my classrooms, I do not expect students to take any risks that I would not take, to share in any way that I would not share.”

Seems to rely on a basic conscious respect and trust in / for Mind.


This will result in a better learning experience for students. However I think less liberal and those with certain psychological dysfunctions may find this difficult to appreciate.


"Since I had participated in the exercise alongside them, I told them I would go first to set the tone. I told them that, as someone prone to anxiety, I tend to apologize when I sense that another person might be upset, even if the cause of their anger or unease is not my fault. " --Katherine Mershon on "Sorry-not-Sorry"

A brave and open approach to teaching! And there are also cultural considerations.
My fellow grandparent if full Navajo. She said, “Karl, there is no word for sorry in Navajo.” Now I’ll have to ask her if there is a word for vulnerability in Navajo. :thinking:


Great read. Thanks for sharing! It’s something that I’ve definitely noticed in the best teacher-student relationships I’ve experienced, and isn’t necessarily something new to teaching at all (but perhaps it’s now more publicized and researched).

When I hear the really accomplished Buddhist teachers of our time talk about their teachers, I always sense the closeness in their relationship that came from navigating vulnerable moments together, even in an atmosphere of respect for one’s elder/senior.


When I started attending the Wat near where I live the abbot asked me if I would come once a week to help him practice his English. As time went by I discerned that he had a bit of an ulterior motive: As much as he wanted to practice his English, he also wanted time with me to tutor me on the Dhamma. I only caught on after about six months when he prefaced one of our lessons by saying, “Today I want to teach you about…” So it’s a win-win for both of us. The abbot gets to practice using English to teach Americans the Dhamma, and I get private Dhamma lessons. I think we are both enriched and humbled by the relationship we have established.