Learning the ‘emotional rules’ of teaching: Constructing the emotionally authentic professional self

Year: 2019

Author: Karnovsky, Saul

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation will argue for using a post-structural theoretical orientation to understand pre-service teacher emotional conduct. Drawing upon Foucauldian scholarship, my research seeks to re-examine the ‘truths’ about human emotions and the role such experiences have in learning to teach. A significant aspect of the modern emotional culture of the West is the mastery of an ability to manage one’s emotions in workplace situations. This presentation will examine the ways in which preservice teachers engage with and negotiate the ‘emotional rules’ of teaching, encountered as both tacit expectations and codified requirements during their course of professional preparation. My research seeks uncover how the Western history of setting emotions against reason provides a discourse of ‘truth’ and authority about what emotions are and what they doin education. I will argue that the ways pre-service teachers come to work upon their emotional conduct is inextricably intertwined within relations of power and knowledge. The presentation draws upon qualitative data gathered through a case study of pre-service teachers in a large Australian university. I will offer an analysis of the ethical practices by which pre-service teachers engage with the emotional rules of teaching to govern themselves as emotionally authentic and competent teachers. I will focus on illustrating the extent to which individuals who engaged with the inquiry draw upon particular discourses of emotion when they explain that mastering the technique of ‘appropriate’ emotional self-control is a necessary requirement for professional teachers. This emotional work is does so in terms of that which the pre-service teachers seek to govern in themselves; the position they take in the face of professional, social and cultural norms and imperatives; the means by which they propose to construct their preferred self; and the mode of professional existence they envision.