SHAME AND LEARNING: The Matrix of shame

This project examines the relationship between shame and learning in learning to preach. As a means of identifying shame experiences, a theoretical frame for analysis called the matrix of shame is proposed. Relationality, contextuality, and vulnerability are the elements composing the matrix of shame. Descriptions of each element grow out of an interdisciplinary conversation between object relations theory, shame theory, educational theory, homiletical theory, and process theology. The matrix of shame is applied to the practices of learning and preaching and vulnerabilities to shame in each practice are identified. The second part of the project reports the findings from research into the experiences of fifteen introductory preaching students at the seminary of a mainline denomination in the Southeastern U. S. in the Fall of 1998. Because of the large number of activities engaged in by preaching students, the high expectations about preaching practices held by student preachers, their peers, and their denominations, and the requirement that preaching students publicly present newly-gained skills, preaching classes are good sources of information about the relationship.