W4: Feel the fear… Education, Self-efficacy and the role of culture


  • Fear and Self-efficacy in education
  • The Choir… South Oxhey
  • Simulation#3: What would you do?
  • Workshops: show & tell; developing digital you – your strategy?
  • Next week: field work for research project
  • 4th hour: textmapping and writing with peer mentors.

Learning = change

Change is uncomfortable – change is resisted – change facilitates fear. Education is all about change – it is inevitable that if we learn and incorporate new knowledge, ideas, beliefs… with ourselves – then we must change. We must adapt to the new knowledge as we become new selves. This is all exciting. At the same time, good learning is about trial and error – having a go – making mistakes: trying – failing – trying again – and failing better. But typically the schooling system does not encourage us to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ – we feel judged in school environments. It can feel that we are not there to learn – but we are being set up to fail.  How can we change ourselves so that we embrace risk – so that we have a go – and fail – and have another go… till we learn what we need to learn – and develop? 

The reflective learning logs that came in last week showed just how much we all fear failure. How much many of us even fear talking about our fear of failure. The pressure to succeed at once – now – immediately – first go – is so strong, it gets in the way of our being able to learn and grow. 

The University blogger captures this very well in his post about fearing to write a blogpost: http://theuniversityblog.co.uk/2013/10/22/experience/

What if it fails – what if people hate it – what if he is shunned and avoided? But, he argues, what if it is okay?  He urges us to take risks because we need to take risks to grow. 

What is it for you:

  • Terror?
  • Horror?
  • Fear of failure?
  • Embarrassment? 



Is the belief that we can… we can succeed if we try. That whatever we set our minds to – is possible for us – if we are prepared for the ‘trial and error’ period. If we are prepared to make mistakes and learn from them. Bandura argues we need models of success in our families, in our communities. However, we ‘non-traditional’ educationalists (those of us who come from communities or families that are not typically encouraged into further and higher education) may not have models of education success to hand. Moreover the things that we may be good at are not necessarily valued in what is still typically a middle class education system. Our:




… may not be in the curriculum at all – or are increasingly being sacrificed for purely ‘academic curriculum’ (viz. Michael Gove). Funnily enough creativity, sport, cadets, cultural activities are all encouraged within private schools alongside the academic curriculum. It is enshrined in those spaces that the whole person needs to be developed in school – and that the academic potential is enhanced when the other aspects of the child are also developed. Once we know we are good at something – and that that something is valued in the school – then we can realise our academic potential as well. Compare that to the education offered to the working class or poor – perhaps well captured in the Channel four documentary ‘Last Chance Kids’: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/last-chance-kids Where those last chance kids were deemed failures at the age of five. If you cannot read by five… you are thought to be lost to education forever. Really?! 

South Oxhey

We looked at South Oxhey an New Town that was built to take an East End post-war exodus to middle England, Herts. South Oxhey was the invisible town. When planned it had to be invisible – it was not to be seen or heard. Middle England was ashamed perhaps and definitely unwelcoming towards these working class migrants foisted upon them. It appeared that this ‘invisibling’ and silencing became internalised by the inhabitants of South Oxhey – it was a town not proud of itself. Gareth Malone as part of his BBC ‘Choir’ series spent weeks in South Oxhey recruiting people to the town choir. He went to the schools and library – but he also went to the pubs and the boxing centre; to reach out to and recruit as many of the residents as possible into the choir. And eventually, even reluctantly they came – they bonded together – and they sang – and they got their pride and their voices back. See an extract from  ‘Unsung town’ http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p004htz2 

The role of culture – and the whole body

We looked at several more clips from different series of The Choir:

And noted the physicality of preparing to sing – and the humanity – and the role of smiling… and discovered how embarrassing it might be to have to take part in activities like that – at first – but how good they are to build our self-confidence and our efficacy. 

Post-apocalypse activity #3:

In groups of five:

  • What would you do to develop a sense of self-efficacy in your population?
  • What songs, poems, dance and culture would you preserve?
  • How would you pass it on to the next generation? 

There were wonderful suggestions about different poems and gongs that could be passed on – and some really interesting suggestions about things that needed to happen in our schools:

  • Trust activities and games
  • Cooking together
  • Community events and the sharing of community food, culture, songs and dance
  • Charity and charitable acts
  • Cleaning – taking responsibility for and pride in one’s own environment. 


We had a brief ‘Show and Tell’ where volunteers talked us through the collages they had made – and their Artist Statements about them – and then we moved on to ‘Developing Digital You’. 

Developing our Digital selves

We were invited to:

  • Join in with the Design 101 MOOC that started on the 28th October: https://iversity.org/courses/design-101-or-design-basics
  • Test ourselves with https://www.coursera.org/course/edc – next run starting on 4th November
  • Come up with our own strategy – and some were interested in designing virtual worlds to support teaching and learning…
  • At the very least – we have to explore the Digital Storytelling site #ds106: http://ds106.us/ for that will take us by the hand and lead us through setting up our Blogs and Gravatars – and encourage us in the development of strong, confident and creative digital identities.

There is much emphasis on us using some of what would be our independent study, reading time to undertake this development. It will also help us when we come to developing digital artefacts and teaching and learning resources at the end of our real research projects. 

W5: Study Week

Our study week is set as exploratory field work for our Research Project: In pairs explore the University as ‘participant observers’ (look this phrase up and think about it) – for Poster Presentation W7. Tips:

So W5 is the week to explore the University as a site or sites of learning and make field notes. Following that we have to reflect on our field notes and produce individual posters capturing what we have discovered in the form of a collage or more formal poster:

Finally: fourth hour – with our Peer Mentors

With our Peer Mentors we were asked to:

  • Read, annotate, engage with:
  • Wilkinson S (08) ‘Optimising teaching and learning through the use of feedback on written assignments in History’ in Investigations Vol 5 (1) pp30-35
  • In groups: Produce 50-word essays on Either: Successful University writing Or Successful University reading.
  • Peer review essays, revise – post to own blogs.
  • Reflect on whole morning… 

Bibliography and further reading/viewing

McIntosh, P (2010) Action Research and Reflective Practice: Creative and visual methods to facilitate reflection and learning London; Routledge 

McIntosh, P Postgraduate nursing students: http://qmul.academia.edu/paulmcintosh/Papers/731108/Creativity_and_reflection_An_approach_to_reflexivity_in_practice

McNiff, J Action Research in Educationhttp://jeanmcniff.com/

Robinson, K. (2006) Ken Robinson says ‘Schools kill creativity’ (speech) ONLINE: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html accessed 10.12.10 

Robinson, K. (2009) ‘Changing Education Paradigms’ (speech) ONLINE: http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/ accessed 10.12.10










9 thoughts on “W4: Feel the fear… Education, Self-efficacy and the role of culture

  1. The Colin Purrington link is a great resource to find simple templates for the poster presentation. It contains simple explanations for the layout of posters and ideas for the most useful type of poster, depending on the purpose.

  2. I enjoy reading this blog and catching up with the class. When I read the bit about change, I thought about truth. Before change can happen a truth has to recognised. Arthur Schopenhauer (a German philosopher, 1788-1860) is famously quoted for saying “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” Once the truth has gone through the third stage, change can begin.
    http://moa1484.wordpress.com This is a link to my blog. Feel free to comment, everyone 🙂

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