I have often shared with students that the worst form of motivation in learning (and unfortunately the motivation most commonly used) is fear. “If I don’t get a good grade ‘x’ will happen.” And “x”, as you can imagine, comes in myriad forms of reprimands or sanctions from the school system or parents. I would hazard to guess that for most of us this was one of the constants applied in our formative years. I have also witnessed that once “x” no longer holds the value of fear, then learning ceases which it should since the learning was never authentic. While this might sound like a description of intrinsic vs. extrinsic motivation, my reference for this comes from Buddhism and the Second Noble Truth which says the principle cause of suffering is attachment to fear/desire, or aversion/wanting. It is well to note that it is not only fear in play but desire as well. When we wrestle with fear, we wrestle with a mercurial two-headed coin. The question becomes what can one do to replace this inauthentic learning? While not buying in to fear/desire in learning is healthy it can also be crippling. For ten years I instructed students in an alternative education setting, where teachers, classrooms, and being a good student were very suspect. The lesson I learned was less what made them disaffected youth but not to fool myself believing that there aren’t parts in myself that fear has disaffected. This is what I know: Fear makes us devalue ourselves. Fear makes us to belittle our suffering and in turn belittle others’ suffering. Fear robs us of who we are at our core. The only cure I know from fear is human connection through empathy and laughter.