Notes on: Zembylas, M.  (2003) 'Caring for teacher emotion: Reflections on teachers self - development'.  Studies in Philosophy and Education 22: 103-25.

David Harris

We begin with recalling an episode in teaching, when a young man discovered all sorts of wonders of nature, and the enthusiasm that greeted you telling the story.  We felt nervous as kids ask questions, then we realized how remarkable and profound some of them were [on hearing the story of Narcissus, John asked whether he will become a flower if he does not love other people]: we responded by quoting a line from a novel.  You then reflected whether that was a good answer, especially as other teachers accused us of being different, not preparing kids adequately for exams.  We felt sad and disappointed at their response [and did we leave schoolteaching as a result?] .  However, John recalls the episode nearly 20 years later and we  are 'are deeply touched' (104). 

Two important features of teacher emotional experience are demonstrated here.  First, teacher emotion 'is the product of cultural, social and political relations'.  A number of emotions were clearly displayed, but all were produced by interactions with students and other teachers in a socio political context.  Secondly, other people's expectations influence your own emotions.

Teachers' emotions have been neglected by researchers in favour of a cognitive emphasis on teaching.  Emotions were seen as individual, as interior, and as the subject properly of psychology.  However there are clearly cognitive aspects displayed in the above vignette, including the relation with bodily response and how we recognize emotions.  There is now a growing interest in emotions [with a big list of references], and their role in teachers' professional and personal development.  However, they still tend to focus around the interpersonal components, with 'a strong constructionist position', and do not recognise power relations.  However, the conventional discourses of teaching clearly influence the construction of emotions, as the teacher reaction to his work shows.  There are 'social rules and codes around the communication of emotion' (105).  We need to examine 'discursive structures and normative practices' which affect teaching and its practice.  This essay fills in the gap, looking at the emotional rules,  how they control emotions, and how they are 'embedded in school culture, ideology, and power relations'.  Critical insights come from feminism and post structuralism and this can help us theorise 'to initiate and to sustain teacher self development', and to develop 'site of resistance and self - (trans) formation' (106).

Current research can be overviewed critically.  Emotions have been neglected even though they are of daily concern in practice [one of the authors here is Nias].  This reflects cultural prejudice against emotion, a dichotomy between reason and emotion which is dominant in educational research.  Emotions are usually seen as being misleading and threatening to reason.  Emotions are elusive and difficult to study.  Affect and emotions have usually been associated with women and feminism, according to Boler.  The knowing person tends to be seen as 'disembodied, detached, and neutral'.  However, the power of emotion in teaching has gradually become recognized.  Teaching is inevitably connected with affects and interaction.  Early work suggested that stress and burnout was a consequence of not attending adequately to emotion.  Later work sees emotion as central to social relationships, and focuses on the effects of positive and negative emotions and how they affect interactions between teachers and others.

[The examples of the first kind of research are cited, 107].  One study was based on teachers attending the Tavistock to learn about counselling.  Examples were given of how teachers' emotional responses 'directly influenced the emotional development of their students'.  Teaching and learning was seen as interconnected.  However, the theoretical framework was psychoanalysis which left out interpersonal and socio political dimensions.  Nias interviewed students to see how they experienced teaching and fitted it into their lives: personal identity was involved, boundaries between personal and professional lives were erased, but this also led to a sense of loss and bereavement after recent policy changes.  Job satisfaction and pride were important in teacher work and careers, but the demands of the school system increasingly downplayed the relevant 'discursive structures and normative practices' (108).  Stress and burnout resulted [lots more references appear], and this also became a major topic, and made teacher emotion mainstream.  This research alluded to the connections between emotion, teacher performance, teacher and knowledge, and the context of the classroom and school.  Teachers were urged to negotiate their own emotional investments effectively.  Overall, though, the studies tended to be descriptive.

The later work, in the last decade, increasingly saw teaching as an emotional practice, and focused on the centrality of social relations in the classroom and school.  Social interactions became important for understanding individual emotions, as in the 'social constructionism of emotion'(109).  Studies were shown of the emotional issues in reform movements in U.S. schools, for example, as pressure is increased, and sources of support diminish.  Teachers were feeling increasingly vulnerable as professional relationships changed, and only some were able to develop 'successful coping strategies'(110).  Such studies clearly showed how emotions in teaching were linked to political interests and moral values.  One suggestion was to encourage students to engage in 'autobiographical reflection and story telling' to combat vulnerability and build solidarity.  One study looked at the emotional labour of women in teaching, which covers coping strategies, as a way of resolving the conflict between caring and administrating.  Another study looked at the effects of an OFSTED inspection and the professional uncertainty, anxiety and confusion that this produced.  Some teachers experienced it is an assault on the self leading to 'mortification, dehumanization, the loss of pedagogic values and of harmony, and changed and weakened commitment'(111): one way to cope was to reconsider themselves not as professionals but as technicians [skilled workers was Ozga's recommendation].  Another study of English primary school teachers notice that they were particularly creative and keen on creating emotional bonds with their students, so that policy issues have a particular effect.  The importance of gender and politics emerges clearly.

The series of articles were produced by Hargreaves and his colleagues on how emotional goals pervade teacher orientations and responses 'to all other aspects of educational change', and to the whole of teacher activity, including planning.  Obviously successful reform would engage the emotions more positively.  Emotional aspects were discovered in teacher parent interactions and in 'positions of leadership': the latter study showed that loneliness, feeling misunderstood and resentment from powerlessness were widespread.  This work is insightful, but again does not emphasize sufficiently discursive practices to connect up these issues: perhaps in-depth longitudinal research is required.  Other studies have looked at the particular case of two mature women teachers, and noticed the role of emotion in terms of their commitment, and the 'emotional comfort and security they get back from students' (112)—the implication is that professional development should provide opportunities for analyzing situations for their emotional impact [Golby and Tickle are cited here].  Overall, complexity appears in these later studies, although even here the possibilities are limited by sociological and psychological frameworks deployed.

Overall, it seems obvious that teacher emotion is crucial.  Emotional dissonance can be created by emotional labour, and this can lead to stress and burnout.  Different aspects of the role of emotion have appeared in different studies, so more systematic research is required.  The drawbacks include theoretical limits, imposed by an interest in interpersonal frameworks in social constructionism, missing the issue of how these get embedded in school cultures ideology and power.  There is very little discussion on how actual practices 'establish and regulate emotional rules' (113).  This would point to certain invisible aspects of the development and imposition of emotional norms, and these connections with power should be developed in both research and practice.  In particular, we need to consider how to develop empowering pedagogies, to move beyond description.  Emotions must be seen as central, 'the very location of the capacity to embrace, or revise, or reject discursive practices of whatever kind'(114), and this should lead to strategies 'to promote self awareness and empowerment (e.g. through autobiographical story telling and exchanging)'.

Feminism and post structuralism have produced suitable theories of emotion which are both social and cultural and political as well as interpersonal [a large list of work is provided].  These might inform understanding of teaching.  Post structuralism in particular emphasizes the role of language and discourse [largely through Foucault], and a widespread view of power with nowhere 'left for an individual to look for a "true self"': the subject is produced by discursive practices.  We can go on to ask how discourses of emotion are used in regulation [deconstructing rival positions as politics]. Feminist theories also show the effects of struggles over power, challenging binary divisions, like those between emotions and bodies, rationality and emotions.  An appeal to the caring qualities of women can be seen as disciplinary.  Liberation from discursive constraints and expectations is required.

Some of the earlier work can be seen as pointing the way, with clear connections with political issues, as we saw, and a number of recent ethnographies of emotion are also useful—especially the work of Boler in education, and 'Catherine Lutz and Lila Abu-Lughod in anthropology' [see below].  Boler argues that emotions have been marginalized and seen as deviant, as a result of the dualisms of western philosophy [idealism] which reflect differences of power.  They prop up the neutral knower and objective knowledge.  She has identified four discourses of emotion in education: 'rational, pathological, romantic, and political' (116).

Rational discourses developed universalist codes and categories, and scientific discourses.  They contain and regulate emotions.  Pathological discourses assume some normal emotional equilibrium, but see individuals as vulnerable to emotions.  Medicine and biology, psychology and social sciences often take this view.  Romantic discourses are found in religious and artistic traditions, and here visions and 'improper emotions'(116) are represented and seen as essentially human [this is where the two anthropologists come in].  Feelings become the essence of emotion, and emotions are seen as universal.  Political discourses are the most recent and are associated with radical feminism and consciousness raising.

Silences are also important in the discourses of emotions, for Boler, reflecting the dominance of 'western rationality', based on the conduct of '"balanced" and "well - behaved" white males'.  This means that institutions are often committed to maintaining silences about emotions, or defining them negatively.  Boler and the anthropologists argue that power is integral to discourses about emotions, since they regulate what may be said, what counts is true, and how power and status differences are maintained.  Foucault is important.  Emotions are inserted into discourses that see them as dangerous, physical, feminine and subordinates.  Even feelings are produced by social political and cultural 'encounters' (117).  There is an emphasis on practice as understood by Bourdieu, Giddens and others, as regulating 'gestures of respect and shame'.  In a particular twist, speaking about controlling emotions can 'actually create those emotions'.

We also see emotions as embodied, as in Bourdieu on the bodily hexis as representing learned habits or dispositions [the anthropologists seem to like Bourdieu].  This sort of embodiment should not be misunderstood as being just natural.  This notion of embodiment clearly relates to the social body as well.  This work has led to a feminist politics of emotions particularly.  We can draw on post structuralist and feminist analysis to understand teachers self development.

Fraser talks about political agency, and this includes being able to articulate emotions and develop alternative expressions 'that challenge oppressive ideologies' (118).  The notion of women in particular as being nurturing or emotional might be challenged.  The techniques can also be used to try and understand the construction of teacher emotion, the development of emotional rules, and the strategies of subversion that might be developed in response.  Teachers know these rules although they are not explicit: they can be inferred from responses to emotional display.  They reflect power relations and can be seen as disciplinary techniques, often through classifying emotional expressions as normal or deviant.  Emotional rules can cover 'specific language, the ethical/emotional territory they map out, the attributes of the person that they identify as of "worth" or "significance," the pitfalls to be avoided and the goals to pursue' (119).  Teachers therefore have to learn to deal with a variety of emotions while controlling their own and radiating 'empathy, calmness, and kindness'.  As they work on how to do this, they become 'subjects for themselves', and subject themselves to control and regulation.  This is often seen as part of a 'judging their professional lives'.  Inevitably this is political, since the rules are often used to 'shut down new pedagogies (e.g. multi cultural education, caring for the emotions, pedagogies that are not fixated to "teaching to the test" etc.)'.

We might begin by challenging the traditional dichotomies like those between the emotional and the rational, or the personal and the political, and the way in which these are assigned to genders.  We need instead to see emotions as 'sites of social and political resistance and transformation of oppressions' and adapt to new emotional rules.  We can also ask more positive questions about how to enrich 'teacher emotional self development' (120) and encourage alternative expressions.  For example we can ask how teachers come to internalize notions such as 'fear, guilt, shame and humiliation', how they might gain courage to resist authority, how they might develop 'new emotional depth and expressions'.  There is already some [official] encouragement for new emotional rules 'that promote empathetic understanding with students' [likely to form into a new kind of soft social control, as in human relations?].  We might also help teachers create stories 'about social solidarity and the role of emotions', not so much as a process of self preservation, but more as a matter of exercising 'openness and flexibility in acting to transform these emotions', recapturing and revaluing what has been excluded, as in some feminist politics.  Empathy can help [later to be seriously modified to avoid passive empathy].  Raising awareness helps teachers 'sort' their experiences and feelings, and learn to use them to empower themselves, create collective resistance.  Autobiographical story telling, mentoring, establishing 'forums for creating emotional and professional bonding', and the development of action research can all help, although they all involve 'inevitable micropolitical issues' [they are not free from displays of dominance and hierarchy?].  The aim will be to 'develop "philosophies and histories of emotions"…  to inform…  pedagogies' [citing two other writers].  [Luckily this gives a role for educational researchers and theorists].

We should move on from the old approaches that focus on interpersonal aspects to recognize the effects of a larger system.  Feminist and poststructuralist ideas can help in displaying connections between the interpersonal and the discursive.  Other approaches might also be pursued researchers need to 'overcome the current problematics and develop pedagogies the account for the intersections of teacher emotion, power relations, and ideology' (122).  Analysis will assist challenge.  The emotions should be seen as positive as well as negative.  Teachers do risk becoming vulnerable, but this is a feature of their professional lives any way.  A good way of caring for teacher emotion is 'developing accounts that recognize them as the site of political resistance'.

The two anthropologists have apparently written a book: Lutz, C. and Abu-Lughod, A.  (eds) Language and the politics of emotion.  Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  There also seems to be a piece on women's emotional labour in management: Blackmore, J.  (1996) 'Doing "emotional labour" in the education marketplace: Stories from the field of women in management'.  Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 17: 337-49.  There are several pieces by Boler.  There is Golby, M.  (1996) 'Teachers' emotions: An illustrated discussion'.  Cambridge Journal of Education, 26:423-34.  There are lots of Hargreaves references.  There is Nias, J.  (1996) 'Thinking about feeling: The emotions in teaching'.  Cambridge Journal of Education, 26:293-306.

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