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  • David OMalley

Emotion in Education


We recently shared a Salesian webinar in two sections from an educationalist in Spain, Dr Jose Ramirez Alonso. I revisited my notes this weekend and selected a

few of his insights to share with you on this blog.


One of my main concerns is that students, teachers and other members of the educational community are not afraid of emotions, allow themselves to feel freely, recognize it and understand what influence it exerts on what they say and do.


Emotions help you learn and remember what you have learned. The experiences that have been surrounded by intense emotions are recorded and recovered better. That is why it is so important to learn by getting excited. Life in school creates the possibility of weaving a wide range of affective relationships that favour learning and well-being. A cheerful school is a setting where the student has the opportunity to learn and be happy.



99% of learning comes through the eyes and what students see most of the day is their teacher. The way teachers show and manage emotions can be a vital message to the students, especially when they come from homes where there is little emotional control. Therefore, the teacher’s emotional management is part of a deeper curriculum in Salesian schools. It represents the heart of education and what we do with our emotions is contagious. We communicate enthusiasm and we can also radiate a lack of enthusiasm. Being consistent in our emotional patterns helps students to relax and learn more effectively.


One of the important pieces of wisdom I have learnt is to be cautious about a teacher who says “school is my life.” I am concerned when a teacher puts all their eggs into one basket and draws all their self esteem and identity from one role. To maintain our self esteem as teachers we need to draw on may strands: family life, sports, friendships, hobbies and so on. A teacher who ties everything to school life is emotionally at risk and likely to become dependent on roles that may change and leave them lost and bewildered.


To rely on self esteem from my colleagues or success in my work could be a sign that I do not value myself apart from those things. Real self esteem does not depend on what others say or what happens to me. Do you feel that you lose self-esteem if you lose authority in classroom? If so you are likely to be shaky and be less resilient. Therefore, there needs to be a deep self-care at the heart of a good teacher. Only then can they be open to learning, only then can they become healers of the young by the expression of their healthy emotions. Only then can teachers care without creating dependence in young people.





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