Emotions: More Than A “Feeling”
by Mary Louise Gomez & Amy Johnson Lachuk - 2019
What are emotions; and how do prospective and practicing teachers’ frame and understand them? How may teachers understand their own identities and those of their students as composed of intersectional dimensions of race, ethnicity, social class, gender, language background, abilities, and sexual orientation? What outcomes may occur as a result of these understandings? How may teacher educators respond when faced with these interpretations? Addressing these questions, we interrogate how emotions experienced by teachers influence how we see ourselves—our effectiveness; our relationships with students and families; and the curricula, pedagogies, and assessments we employ.
We draw on our own experiences as teacher educators, as well as extant research, to explore answers to these questions. Studies across diverse fields indicate that emotions are more than feelings or uncontrollable responses to situations; rather, they are socially and culturally constructed and agreed upon among people. As teacher educators, what intrigues us most about this research on emotion are the implications it has for creating culturally responsive and socially just teachers—teachers who are able to effectively teach youth who come from racial, cultural, class, and linguistic backgrounds different from their own.
We appeal to scholars from various traditions—philosophy (Andrews, 2014; Boler, 1999; Levinas, 1972; Nussbaum, 2001), literature (Morrison, 2017), cultural theory (Ahmed, 2014, 2012), composition and rhetoric (Micciche, 2007), neuroscience (Feldman Barrett, 2017; Sapolsky, 2017), narrative inquiry (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000), and teacher education (Britzman, 2003)—to question and elaborate what the term “others” may mean to teachers. Our twin goals are to demonstrate how often prospective and practicing teachers employ dichotomies of race, ethnicity, social class, language background/s, ability, and sexual orientation, among other dimensions of identity, to distinguish themselves from students and their families, and to begin exploring how teacher educators may provide alternatives to such imposed views.
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