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The Learning Self: Understanding the Potential for Transformation

ISBN: 978-0-470-39336-9
224 pages
March 2012, Jossey-Bass
The Learning Self: Understanding the Potential for Transformation (047039336X) cover image


This new book from the award-winning author of Psychology and Adult Learning puts the spotlight on the kind of learning that brings about significant personal change. Tennant explores the techniques, processes, and practices educators can use to promote learning that leads to change and examines assumptions about self and identity, how we are formed, and our capacity for change.

Throughout the book, Tennant posits that individuals can be agents in their own self-formation and change by understanding and acting on the circumstances and forces that surround and shape them. Educators, he argues, must be open to different theoretical ideas and practices while simultaneously valuing these practices and viewing them with a critical eye.

The book aims to:

  • promote, among educators and others with an educational dimension to their work, a more critical approach to their learning designs and practices;
  • equip individuals with a framework for understanding and being agents of their own self-formation and change.
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Table of Contents

Preface vii

About the Author xiii

1. Introduction 1

2. The Authentic or Real Self 17

3. The Autonomous Self 35

4. The Repressed Self 55

5. The Socially Constructed Self 73

6. The Storied Self 89

7. Knowing Oneself 107

8. Controlling Oneself 123

9. Caring for Oneself 137

10. (Re)creating Oneself 151

References 173

Index 191

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Author Information

Mark Tennant is professor emeritus of education at the University of Technology, Sydney, where he has held the positions of dean of the University Graduate School and dean of the Faculty of Education. He was the recipient of the Cyril O. Houle Award for Literature in Adult Education for his book Psychology and Adult Learning and is the coauthor of Learning and Change in the Adult Years and Teaching, Learning and Research in Higher Education.

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"In this age of self-help, the 'self' is a term thrown around with abandon. For educators, the notion of self-directed learning is a key concept. Yet the notion of self is deeply problematic, even contentious. The world has needed a book that deftly and accessibly takes the idea of the self and looks at it in a sympathetic but critical way. Mark Tennant has written that book. It is a highly readable and fascinating deconstruction of this key idea that will be appreciated by all helping professionals." —Stephen Brookfield, Distinguished University Professor, University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis-St. Paul

"An excellent contribution to the field! This is a clearly written text that takes the reader far beyond much contemporary work in psychology and learning. It opens up new ways of thinking about the learning self and provides a significant contribution to transformative learning theory. This is a book that should be read by every student of psychology, learning, and the self." —Peter Jarvis, professor emeritus of continuing education, University of Surrey, United Kingdom

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The Learning Self: Understanding the Potential for Transformation (US $42.00)

-and- Adult Education for Health and Wellness: New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, Number 130 (US $29.00)

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