Adult Learning and la Recherche Féminine: Reading Resilience by Elizabeth Chapman Hoult (auth.)

By Elizabeth Chapman Hoult (auth.)

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The teacher/sculptor is privileged over the learner, and the success is due almost entirely to his skill, with the support of the supernatural power. The teacher is complete, superior, and knowledgeable from the very beginning. The learner is passive, mute, and subservient, and her only emotional investment is coyness and adulation at the moment of coming to consciousness and the consequent recognition of her creator. 32 ● Adult Learning and la Recherche Féminine The teacher is god/parent/lover and artist— everything, in fact, to the learner— and she can only be grateful.

The resilience of the adult learner pivots on how robustly she can resist the control of her Pygmalion while still remaining alive and intact. There is some mileage, then, in reading Eliza as a resilient version of the adult learner. She is not fully resilient, though, and this is an important point. In Shaw’s commentary at the end of the play, he explains that Eliza does not fulfill her defiant ambition of becoming a teacher. Instead, she opens a flower shop. Even here, though, Shaw will not allow the reader to indulge in any sentimentality.

Rather, it is a depiction of a semi-resilient learner. An important finding from the analysis of this one play is that although the initial drive for transformational learning may be appropriated and instigated by a learner who yearns for transformation, that learner requires a teacher (in Pygmalion ● 41 some form or other) in order to perform resilience in the fullest sense. A simple (but important) early finding, therefore, is that resilience does not reside in the learner. Instead, it exists in the spaces between her and her teacher and between both of them and the social and economic world that they inhabit.

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