Education and the emotions.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis is concerned with the question of emotions: whether emotions are of interest, or concern to the educator; whether they require specific educational attention; what, if anything, our educational aims with regards to emotions, are; whether emotions pose any special problems for the educator; and so on. The first chapter looks at the nature of emotions, and attempts to draw some sort of conceptual map of the class of things we call 'emotions'. The second chapter discusses the ways in which we can he more, and less, rational about our emotions, and a number of specific educational aims are outlined. The third chapter argues that educators influence children’s emotions. This influence cannot be undone simply by an adherence to rationality, and leaves the educator facing some difficult questions about the direction and nature of that influence. To a degree he can answer this with reference to mental health, human happiness, and a necessary minimal social morality. But though this may provide him with general guidelines, it will not justify the specific influence he has on children's emotions. The fourth chapter attempts to provide some answers to this problem. The argument is that just as comprehensive knowledge and rational thinking protects us from being indoctrinated with regards to our beliefs, so comprehensive knowledge and understanding of the emotions and values of other people (something gained through the ability to empathize) protects us from being indoctrinated with regards to our emotions. The final chapter looks briefly at the skills needed to understand our own emotions, and to empathize with other people: the ability to express and communicate our feelings effectively.