The Shadow: Mining its Dark Treasury for Teaching and Adult Development

  • Irene E Karpiak The University of Oklahoma


This paper explores the psychological shadow--the disowned self--as one of the hidden, unconscious elements in adult and continuing education, often underlying those inexplicable emotional reactions that transpire in instructor/learner interactions. Drawing on the literature related to the psychological shadow, teaching/learning, and adult development, as well as on personal experience as an educator, the author examines the manifestation of the shadow in the classroom. Unacknowledged, the shadow can disturb the learning environment and severely inhibit learning. But when the shadow is brought to light it can actually serve to enrich student learning and promote the teacher's personal and professional development. This paper suggests ways in which educators and students alike can begin the process of reclaiming and integrating their shadow.